It’s the near future, crime is running rampant but a free will stripping new technology has emerged intent on perfecting humanity, a signal that makes it impossible to commit even the simplest of crime. Gone will be the days of murder, arson or even video piracy. The new signal goes like in just under a week. Just enough time for everyone to indulge in their baser instincts and for moronically named career criminal Bricke (Edgar Ramirez) that means carrying out the last crime in american history, a bank robbery like no other.
Clocking in at an unbearable 148 minutes, Olivier Megaton’s latest movie might just be his quietest, less interested in action set-pieces, more enamoured by the questionable love story at the heart of a film without one. Seemingly falling for co-conspirator Shelby (Anna Brewster), a composite of sexist stereotypes and poor writing, Megaton instead replaces much needed character beats with needlessly grimy sex scenes intent on making out that love means nothing unless you are willing to have a romp in a dingy dive bar toilet.
The needlessly bleak aesthetic while acceptably depressing does little for a film looking to indulge in serious moments while flipping into campy action or dry torture porn at a moments notice. To say it is all over the place puts it mildly. When Bricke reluctantly partners with Kevin Cash (Michael Pitt), Megaton thinks he has found a way of linking his more outlandish tendencies to a sense of reality. Cash is constantly shifting from gangster with daddy issues to psychopathic nutjob and while it sounds like a fun detour in a film intent on sucking the joy out of everything, Pitt delivers these shifts not in nuanced acting or smart choices but in changing the decibels he delivers his painfully stilted dialogue in. Ultimately it highlights the main failing of a film where its harder to find what works than what doesn’t. Megaton and writer Karl Gajdusek mistake the loud for the dramatic, mistaking sex for flirting and senseless rampaging for…acting out?
Constantly swapping back to the listless identity crisis of soon to be obsolete police officer Will Sawyer (a bored Sharlto Copley), a John Wayne wannabe lone ranger, scouring for a crime he can find meaning in. His presence seems superfluous to a plot that neither needs or wants him. When he finally intersects with Bricke and Shelby’s story he isn’t the sympathetic villain Megaton wants, just another gung ho police officer, another inconvenience in a film that just refuses to end.
While there are small thrills to be found with some bright moments of dumb fun found in mindless action, Megaton always brings you back to reality with a thud thanks to some truly shocking continuity. While Bricke is trying to find a reason to keep on going thanks to his whole world crumbling around him, his audience are seeking a reason to keep slogging through the depressing tone, unpleasant characters unintentionally hilarious dialogue. In this case, you won’t find one.