Undistinguished, formulaic fare, 28 September 2007
Author: gary-444 from United Kingdom
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The pedigree of leading lady Jodie Foster and Director Neil Jordan suggested that they might be able to do something new and refreshing with the “revenge” genre, which this film is firmly entrenched in. Sadly, they don’t. Dame Helen Mirren recently said that no artist should be ashamed of making a film for the money – and that is what this enterprise reeks of.
The synopsis of the plot is simple. Foster and fiancé are beaten by Central Park thugs, fiancé dies, Foster “fights back” against the bad guys in general with a cop slowly closing in. If this sounds as though it doesn’t merit a 2 hour running time, you would be right. But Jordan does not do 90 minute films.
In principle the “Chick as vigilante” twist has potential. But it is squandered by the clichéd scenes. The opening tunnel ambush, the subway mugging and closing tenement shootout are almost shot for shot lifts from “Death Wish”, the story’s modern inspiration. Even the “john pulling hookers” and Vietnamese store hold up pay obvious homage to Clint Eastwood films in the former case, and Michael Douglas in “falling Down ” in the second.
The Rod and Bruce Taylor screenplay is exceptionally “clunky”, betraying their big screen inexperience. Plot developments are not so much hinted at – as smacked across your face.
Yet it does have some redeeming features.Terence Howard gives a fine performance as Detective Mercer who closes in on Foster as the film moves on. There are a few funny lines too. When Detectives ascertain that double murder victims are husband and wife, one remarks:”Haven’t they heard of Divorce?” And the final scene, having been arrived at in the most hackneyed, clichéd, and formulaic way possible is redeemed by an unexpected twist.
Do not be seduced into believing that this is some sort of Feminist statement . It isn’t. Foster behaves as cynically as any past man has in the role. Multilayered ? No, more like a badly fitting jigsaw whose bits JUST fit.
The music lacks atmosphere, and the moral issues are skimmed over in favour of trying to do too much, in too long a time. The studio would have probably got a much stronger film if they had insisted om 90 minutes. This notwithstanding, expect the blood, violence, gratuitous use of the word “cunt” and gunning down the bad guys mixture to have audiences rooting in the aisles.