Vanquish: Ineptitude in full bloom
George Gallo's Vanquish is not only the worst film I've seen this year, but perhaps in the last decade. Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman is slumming as a retired cop with some old scores to settle. A large paycheck must have enticed the actor to make this film, but there's another perk that surely was appealing – he never has to stand. His character, Damon, is in a wheelchair throughout, rolling about his modernistic mansion, bathed in cool blues and blacks, scowling again and again as he sees the outside world through the eyes of a surrogate.
That would be Victoria (Ruby Rose, all attitude and little else), who has a skill set that comes in handy as she's sent to complete five trips to pick up large sums of money from various nefarious characters. Each trip ends in violence, frantically cut together to obscure the ineptitude of their staging. Cryptic dialogue expressing half-thoughts are spoken throughout, implying great menace and import, failing to obscure Gallo's lazy writing. The story is repetitious, performances stiff and Vanquish doesn't even do us the service of being so bad it's laughable. No, it's just an embarrassment for all concerned. In theaters.
Voyagers an outer space snore
I love classic literature, but sometimes a novel's reputation far exceeds its actual quality. For me, Lord of the Flies falls into that category. Perhaps I knew too much about it going in, but William Golding's work struck me as woefully predictable and slowly paced when I finally got around to it. The state of the world itself gave the novel a "been-there-done-that" feel I couldn't shake.
I had the same feeling with Neil Burger's Voyagers, a loose adaptation of Flies set on a massive spaceship on an 83-year mission. Colin Ferrell is Richard, a scientist shepherding a group of teens to a distant planet they intend to colonize. However, once he dies the crew of the ship split into two factions, each vying for control, both following vastly different ideologies. The film gets off to a strong start as we see the crew being grown in labs for the sole purpose of undertaking the epic journey at hand. Unfortunately, Burger fails to address the many ethical questions this practice would prompt, instead going the easy route and giving us a familiar tale of teen angst set in the cosmos. In theaters.
Monday: Narrative whiplash, and lots of sex
I have a hard time remembering when my feelings for a film fluctuated as much as they did while watching Argyris Papadimitropoulos' Monday, a love story, sex romp, domestic drama hybrid that – big surprise- can't decide what it wants to be. American ex-pats in Greece, charming DJ Mickey (Sebastian Stan) meets immigration lawyer Chloe (Denise Gough) when she's at her lowest. Dumped by her high-powered boyfriend, she embarks on an impulsive weekend with this stranger, making love wherever and whenever the mood strikes them, which is a lot over the lust-fueled three days.
However, when the initial charm between them wears off, the film gets interesting, as it examines the difficulties couples run into when they have to deal with the daily grind. Chloe comes to find that Mickey is nothing but an overgrown child, while he has problems with her low sense of self-worth. There's an energy to the scenes dealing with the various domestic conflicts that arise, the film suddenly relatable and engaging. Too bad Papadimitropoulos resorts to nonsensical melodrama in the third act and leaves us with an ending that's one of the most disappointing in recent memory. In theaters.