Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Written and Directed by Richard Kelley
Starring Caaymerrohn Diyaz, James Marsden, Frank Langella
a mysterious package arrives at a suburban residence in virginia. an offer is made by a mysterious fellow with a quarter of his face burned off. the mr. & mrs. can push the button on the box and receive a million smackaroons or they can just not and the box will be taken away. the catch is that when they push the button someone on the face of the planet will die. they have 24 hours to consider this deal. the whore pushes the button. mysterious things continue to happen.
This movie has many things. It has suspense, drama, decently-high stakes, philosophical discussion. It has pointless accents, bad biology, impossibly wide-reaching conspiracy, stupidly judgmental aliens. It has exactly enough changes to minor variables in a well-remembered plot formula to tantalize both financiers and ticket buyers.
So, what more is there to say? Not much, really. I don't know if we agreed that this is a low three or a high two, but I'd put it in the latter category. I've given myself quite a backlog of posts and I don't want them all to be my own formula which too often is just a variation of "...meh." I don't have anything particularly funny to say. I might have when we watched this but it's long since exited my active consciousness. Whatever.
The suspense was pretty good. Direction was competent in this regard and there were times when we as viewers saw the potential for an outcome which diverged from formula. The core question each asked of each couple in the film is an interesting one, and I could see it generating some discussion or arguments on car rides home. What the couples have on the line is almost important enough to warrant the money side of the equation. (I wonder if one of the things they discussed was also the fact that of all places in the country, even more than New York or L.A. or Chicago, CAMERON DIAZ DOES NOT NEED TO DO A FAKE ACCENT TO APPEAR LIKE SHE LIVES IN ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA. It's a suburb of the capital. Literally, natives of each of the 50 states live or stay there quite frequently.)
The problem with the whole thing is that in order for that equation to actually play through it requires an INSANE machine. Think back to The Game, which is a great movie because it deserves its payoff and stays just on the right side of believable for its duration (within its own context, of course). That last (or, near the end; it's been a while since I watched it) scene when Michel Douglas and Sean Penn are talking about the bill is all you need to know. To pull something like this off requires tens of millions of dollars; and there are fewer variables in the example film than the one in question. How does Frank Langella get the money for so many people to be under his thumb? What does he actually give the government? It's this suspension that is impossible to me.
Similarly, this is another example of aliens judging humanity based on the actions of middle class Americans. This bothers me both story-externally and story-internally. Sure, middle class Americans are the ones who pay to watch these movies, and they want to identify with what they see on screen. But do they really need further reinforcement of their view that their social segment is the most important IN THE ENTIRE WORLD? Similarly, America as a whole--not even middle class America--makes up less than 5% of the population of the world. Maybe the aliens could judge someone else for a while. I don't know that it would make them think any better of us but it would be nice if they had more than one data point.
That would be nice, and interesting. This was not particularly nice, and not interesting enough.
Oh, I didn't even talk about Frank Langella's face, which was the topic of much discussion while this was on screen. Leila did but she didn't provide the photo, so here you go.
i didn't think this was too bad. i had heard it was TERRIBLE!!!! with four exclamation marks. but i was intrigued through most of it. i was waiting for the shitty ending that would make it TERRIBLE!!!! but the ending that happened was just kind of lack luster. it was not a great revelation. it was something that was predictable from about a half hour in and all the mysterious details were just that. little mysterious add ons that were not really that relevant to the meat of the plot. there is also a great distaste for the diaz in this household. we find her immensely annoying. so there's that. yet another meh movie but with a brunette britta.
oh. it also bothered me that frank langella's face had that hole in it where you could see his teeth, but his speech was not impaired at all. if you have a hole in your face you are not going to be able to speak and sound like a person who doesn't have a hole in their cheek. that really irked me. it's just unthoughtful shock value, look what we can do with technology nonsense.