Watching films with a focus on mental health is a great idea, they said. Movies about serious emotional issues will in no way be too real or fill you with existential dread, they said.
Predictably, they were wrong. And by “they” I mean “we.”
This month returns us to an old favorite, Blog Free or Die Hard, which promises hours of mindless entertainment. Or at least no more films about mental health care facilities in the UK (for now).
What is the truth behind a small-town bank robbery that has left a trail of bodies in its wake? The answer may (or may not) surprise you.
As viewers, we see the story of a small-town bank robbery gone wrong as it unfolds in reverse. Sheriff Zeke’s concern at this point is finding his brother Andy, one of three suspects, before someone else does. Zeke seems to be the only competent, upright citizen in the entire town–a rather thankless job. As it turns out, Andy is hiding out in his own basement with the duffel bag full of cash he conspired to steal. Great plan…?
In the robbery’s aftermath, Zeke is shot, 2 people are dead, 2 suspects are on the run, and many people seem to know more than they’re revealing. Since the money in the vault was federally insured, FBI agents are involved with the investigation, though they create more problems than they solve.
Now on the run are Ed, the ringleader in all of this, and his wife Steph, who rendezvous with Andy to divvy up the cash and get out of town. That is, until the passenger in Steph’s car shoots Andy and drives away.
As the story unfolds, we see how the conspirators used blackmail and violence to complete their plan (despite their overall incompetence). It’s also clear Steph plays a much greater role than she initially appears to, lying to the police about threats from Ed and plans to flee to Mexico. Or is she…? Her relationship with Ed is tense, and she blames him for the death of their young son in an accident. Whose side is Steph really on?
Additionally, the judge is involved with the robbery as he’s being blackmailed over his much younger male lover just as he’s about to announce his campaign for Senate. Things don’t end well for quite a few characters who end up being loose ends in this plan…is the judge one of them?
Like any good noir story, the mystery becomes even hazier as we learn that literally everyone in this town is despicable.
Which all leads us to…what really happened the night of the robbery. It’s probably not what you think. Or maybe it is; I’m not a mind reader.
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
Look, the biggest problem here is that I don’t know if this film is supposed to be funny or not. There was one moment I recall that made me laugh–in fact, it was almost vaudeville sort of moment when Andy asks Chris to check the radio after the robbery has occurred and Chris turns on the radio to a rather upbeat jazzy tune. There is unexpected humor throughout the film, but it doesn’t always feel at home.
The more I think about it, I wonder if this was a tactic to catch the viewer off-guard–would you really expect Rainn Wilson and Rob Corddry to work on a dark, gritty project with a dramatic twist? However, this never completely commits to being funny nor to being a clever film noir; it exists mostly in limbo.
I hoped for more of an IDFAHITWA vibe, so perhaps this was destined to fall short in my eyes. There’s no Melanie Lynskey (or Elijah Wood), and no one even remotely worth liking or rooting for. Almost everyone in this film turns out to be utterly incompetent or a complete sociopath. The female characters are also pretty sloppily written, and even the signature femme fatale manages to fall flat completely.
- The more I hear the name Zeke, the more I like it. Potential name for my next cat.
- Netflix really, really needs to add more film noir to its streaming collection. While this wasn’t terrible, I also wanted it to be so much better.