Wednesday, August 1, 2012
The first cringe-inducing element of the movie was the forced chemistry of the two male leads, Corey and David. Their first interaction occurs at their adjacent cubicles in their workplace (a financial institution which I thought was a setup for some social commentary on all of the economic crises). I've seen plenty of bad acting and terrible on-screen chemistry, but this is the worst since the first Saw installment. The dialogue between Corey and David is written in the manner of a Judd Apatow movie, but these two cannot execute the comedy like Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Paul Rudd, et al. I could tell I was supposed to laugh, but it was so forced and flimsy and, well, awkward, that I could only feel sorry for the actors watching themselves in hindsight (surely they can tell how bad and unnatural it is).
The second is the implausibility factors of the plot. When it comes to a survival flick, especially if it's a single-setting setup, it is understandably difficult to find ways to ensure continuity and suspense. I'll just point out two things I couldn't get past. The first is the unnatural and forced way in which our triad ends up in the ATM booth. From Corey's insistence that David give him a ride home to the fact that he needs food to the fact that he needs to stop at an ATM--it all seems poorly thought out. I can feel that the film is groping at straws to get these three to an obscure ATM booth. But whatever. I tried to excuse all the things by telling myself the film would pick up once they were inside and the killers shenanigans commenced. And the second and most glaring flaw occurs when the antagonist pulls David's car up to the door (so as to trap them in) and uses a nearby hose to flood the booth. As soon as David notices the car at the door, he is able to open the door about 5-6 inches. So, once the water begins to fill the booth, why doesn't someone open the door--maybe even prop it open with the flimsy aluminum trash can? Why doesn't the water push it open? And as far as I can tell our characters aren't suffering any mental breakdowns that would limit this strategy.
The third is the insulting of the audience's intelligence with what is made out to be the epiphany of the film. Throughout the movie, we constantly get the perspective of the ATM camera and we see that the antagonist is very meticulous as to how close to the booth he gets. The leads constantly question why he won't come near them. But we, the audience, know that it's because he doesn't want to appear on camera. And almost every camera-perspective shot shows David doing something destructive or violent. So, yeah, we get that it is going to look as if David is the culprit. But the film decides to go back and show all the clips we've just seen and really amp up the fact that it all looks as if David is actually the killer. Yes, we got that. Thanks.
The fourth and final is the antagonist's motive. Or lack thereof. Perhaps I missed something, but this seems to be one of the stock of movies in which the killer is an obsessive-compulsive with no apparent motive. It's worked for some movies, but with the chips already stacked against ATM, it seemed like another shortcut. I have to question whether or not the filmmakers went back and watched the final product and thought, yes, this is a good film that people will like. Because, for me, this is mediocre and does nothing for the survival-thriller genre. Yet, at the same time, I was compelled to stick it out for the wrap-up; and despite the finish being anticlimactic, I can say that I still had a decent time. So here's to a good try and a chance to learn from our mistakes.