Well, they could not have timed this film worse, on many levels.
It’s sometime in the future and Bricke (Édgar Ramírez) is a career thief. Unfortunately for him, the US is rolling out the American Peace Initiative (API), a device that sends out a signal that makes it fundamentally impossible for people to do things that are illegal. Bricke is recruited by Kevin Cash (Michael Pitt), the son of a major crime family, to help his hacker girlfriend Shelby Dupree (Anna Brewster) find out where the government is liquidating a ton of currency in preparation for a transfer to digital commerce and steal a billion dollars. They then plan on fleeing to Canada right before the API goes live so that they can spend the money, because spending stolen goods is, itself, a crime that the API prevents. Meanwhile, William Sawyer (Sharlto Copley), a policeman in the last days of police, is trying to deal with the changing of Law Enforcement and trying to make up for some mistakes.
F*cking hell, this movie is a waste of potential. I’m not sure I really should have expected better from a director who mostly specializes in taking franchises on after they’re already successful (Transporter 3, Taken 2, Taken 3), but I feel like Olivier Megaton (cool name, though) just did not know how to craft a story. I also think he didn’t have anyone telling him “no” enough on set.
This movie is 149 minutes. To put that in perspective, you can watch the original Frankenstein twice and make a drink. What We Do In the Shadows is an hour shorter. The Dark Knight is roughly the same length and has like… I dunno… 7 acts in it? This movie is way too long, is my point. You’d think that in 149 minutes there would be enough time to play with the, admittedly really interesting, premise… but no, not really. There’s not a lot of debate about the morality of forcing people to obey, nor any real consideration of why people are okay with this in America, or even what the hell happened that made this seem necessary. I’d even take a joke about the fact that having politicians subject to a wave that makes illegal conduct impossible would mean there’s no chance in hell this passed Congress. Bribery would, presumably, be covered in the no-no list (although wage theft, being civil, would still be kosher). Instead, the movie really just uses the API for a few scenes in which the police use it on targets and to give the movie a ticking clock.
You’d think a lack of exploration would mean that the film focused on character development or plot, but you would be wrong. Bricke has two facial expressions and they both suck. Rather than worry about things like explaining the heist or having developed characters, the movie instead decides to try to have a large number of action set pieces… that are unbelievably generic and forgettable. At least Extraction went big and bold with its action sequences, but this film just kind of forgets to push any particular envelope.
Another big problem with this movie is that they released it during a wide-scale protest about police violence and the film contains a number of instances of police violence, including a scene in which guards use API to disable a criminal and then beat him to death as he lies there helpless.
Really the only thing that stands out in the film is Michael Pitt’s performance, because he DOES go all out at points, just being a complete and utter sociopath at times. However, that really just drives home how painfully uninteresting and bland the rest of the characters are.
Overall, I can’t recommend this one. If it was 60 minutes shorter, it might have been tolerable, but it isn’t.
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