It's becoming a trend of mine lately, but perhaps I shouldn't be too proud of it. For the second time in consecutive weeks I decided to catch a pair of movies at the Regal in Edgmont. I won't go into the details about the art of sneaking into a second film (maybe I'll blog on that later), but you can't be too picky when pulling off "The Double Feature". I had a partner in crime this time out, so I let him choose the first one. He decided to go with the M Night Shyamalan (producer) film Devil. Being somewhat restricted, I wasn't upset at all by the thought of doubling down with the latest George Clooney picture, The American. With pretzel bites and candy in hand, we set off on the adventure. Here's what I had to say about the films:
Starring: Chris Messina (Julie and Julia) and Geoffrey Arend (500 Days of Summer and Super Troopers)
U.S. Release: 2010 (rated PG-13)
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Runtime: 80 minutes
I had no real expectations going into the film. I've always been a big horror fan, so I guess you could say I was somewhat intrigued. Devil offers a solid story, excellent pacing, and just enough suspense to keep your interest. Though I must offer a warning to die hard fans of the Horror genre. Devil shies away from showing you too much during the intense scenes. If your looking for gore and brutality, you definitely won't find it here.
Devil follows a group of strangers on an elevator ride inside of a Philadelphia building. When the elevator breaks down, the situation begins to go haywire. Police are baffled by the crazy turn of events that begin to take place in the enclosed space. However, one security guard has his own theory for detectives at the scene. He believes that the Devil is present in the elevator.
Despite it's mediocre attempt at a twist, Devil will keep you entertained and interested in how this 80 minute thrill ride resolves itself. The acting was certainly above average for a Horror film and props to Devil for its constant usage of the Philadelphia skyline. And even though there's nothing groundbreaking about the film, the story is sure to keep you guessing until the end. I wouldn't recommend rushing out to see it before it exits theatres, but it's worth seeing if you stumble upon it down the road.
Watch Devil if you enjoyed: The Orphan. Very different stories, but the feel of the movies were similar. Intriguing and entertaining, but nothing more.
Stars: 2 out of 4 stars.
Film: The American
Starring: George Clooney (Up in the Air and Burn After Reading)
U.S. Release: 2010 (rated R)
Director: Anton Corbijn
Runtime: 105 minutes
George Clooney is a polarizing actor. Generally speaking, most people either love him or hate him. I was in a discussion recently about Clooney, and someone suggested he was one of the most overrated actors alive. Personally, I find him to be a wonderful character actor. More times than not, I find myself getting emotionally invested in Clooney's roles, and it often leaves me satisfied with his performance. But I like to objective, so I can sort of see the other side of this argument. His resume isn't overwhelming, but somehow he's certainly one of the biggest superstars on the planet. Hence, I went into seeing The American expecting a knockout performance from Clooney. Unfortunately, he didn't deliver.
The American follows Jack (Clooney), an aging hitman who's become a target himself. And when you're a hitman, where do you start when compiling a list of anyone who could be out to get you? Jack takes the advice of his employer and decides to hide out in a little Italian town. While in Italy, he falls for a local call girl and wants nothing more than to run off together and live a normal life. As the days pass, he finds it difficult to trust anyone and begins to realize that his fantasy is all too unlikely.
This film was certainly a poor choice for Clooney. Despite it's decent cinematography, the story is dry and the main character, Jack, is all too emotionless. As the film drags on, you find yourself uninterested in Jack's fate, good or bad. I understand the director's attempt, but he failed at creating a wonderful character piece in the likes of Gran Torino or Crazy Heart. Instead, Anton Corbijn leaves the audience bored and detached. When a film lacks depth and a fluent storyline, much like The American, a brilliant performance by the lead actor or actress becomes a necessity. And believe me, Clooney didn't give such a performance. I would be very reluctant to see the film unless you're a sucker for a very slow, character-driven drama.
Watch The American if you enjoyed: The Wrestler. Be warned though, Clooney is no Rourke and the story is less intense than the Darren Aronofsky hit.
Stars: 1 out of 4 stars