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Nov 2, 2008

Fletch's Film Review: Passengers and Pride and Glory

On the surface, it wouldn't seem as though Passengers, a psychological thriller centered around a crashed airplane, and Pride and Glory, an NYC Irish Family Cop Drama (capitalized because it deserves it, damnit), would have much in common. That surface would be right. But there's a twist...

Passengers may be trying to give off that Lost vibe, but it reminded me more of the 2004 film The Forgotten, which is more than ironic because I really don't remember much about The Forgotten at all. What I do recall is that Julianne Moore played a mother whose child went missing; it co-starred Dominic West and featured a pretty cool effect where people got sucked off the screen into who-knows-where. The rest of it was garbage, so Passengers shouldn't be flattered by the comparison. Thankfully for the film, it's not nearly as bad as that movie I forgot about, but it does feature a few things in common: a female protagonist, characters that go missing without explanation, and, well, I'll probably forget about it shortly.

Anne Hathaway plays a shrink that's assigned to help the few remaining survivors of a plane crash cope with the tragedy they've just endured. The most interesting person to her, for a few reasons, is a man played by Patrick Wilson that's showing no symptoms common to post traumatic stress syndrome. He's happy as a clam, and no one knows why.

As the film plays out, Hathaway makes nice with Wilson, trying to get inside his head while he tries to get her into bed. David Morse enters the picture as a mysteriously (and possibly nefarious) airline employee, as Hathaway begins to suspect some sort of cover-up. Andre Braugher spends a couple days on set as her superior. Dianne Wiest spends even less time on set as a nosy neighbor who seems just a bit too interested in Hathaway's affairs. I'm curious as to what got left on the cutting room floor - I realize Wiest and Bruagher aren't the biggest of names, but their roles are throwaways that could have filled by just about anyone. By the time the "shocker" ending comes along, the only thing you'll be surprised about by it is how little how you care. Though I admit that I hadn't come up with what the twist was, it still remains one of the least surprising twists ever, no doubt because the audience is left sitting and waiting for the other shoe to drop the entire time.

Fletch's Film Rating:


Pride and Glory, meanwhile, is the polar opposite. Ed Norton, looking Russian, plays an Irish cop with a Tortured Past who is forced to choose between his family and his integrity when rogue brother-in-law Colin Farrell threatens to tear the whole damn world apart with his ne'er-do-well tendencies. Noah Emmerich lends a bit of German to the cast as Norton's brother, with Jon Voight (and whatever nationality he brings to the table) filling out the cast as their father. So to recap, that's one authentic Irishman playing the in-law to an Irish family - but they're all cops. Got it? Good.

Here's where you might wonder what's wrong with film critics, or maybe just with me: while on the one hand I'm quick to deride Passengers for being so obvious about its forthcoming shocker ending, I have no problem on the other for panning Pride for being too straightforward. It plays out like the least interesting, longest, and most violent episode of Law & Order that you've ever seen, with bigger (and mostly better) actors filling in. So little changes from beginning to end that I was left wishing that the film was 30 minutes long rather than the 130 it ended up being.

And somehow, I just gave a spoiler for a film that has nothing to offer in the spoiler department.

Fletch's Film Rating:


Some final thoughts:

* Daniel, I offer you a mea culpa. Maybe it's just coincidence, but ever since your post, I've been seeing answering machines all over the damn place in movies. I caught Michael Clayton on HBO yesterday, only to see George Clooney leaving a message for Tom Wilkinson. Passengers, meanwhile, features answering machines prominently as well, as one of the subplots is Hathaway's deteriorated relationship with her sister. How does she end up communicating with her? You guessed it.

* While I didn't enjoy Pride and Glory overall, I have to give it up for Voight. I haven't seen the man give a good performance in a long time, and that's no different here. Why'd I like it, then? He's in prime Anaconda and Varsity Blues overacting territory, of course! Playing a drunk, Voight has nothing but joy to give as he alternates from inebriated to angry to inspired.

* Shame on Pride director Gavin O'Connor for criminally underusing FF-UN vet Rick Gonzalez. He shows up briefly as a menace to Farrell's livelihood and steals the scene, only to never be heard from again. Still waiting for him to get a better role - he deserves it.

5 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Passengers and Pride and Glory"

Daniel Getahun said...

A yay-yuhhhh! Validation! I don't think it's a coincidence, of course, but your challenge was fair. In other news, Paul Rudd takes a free cab ride in Role Models...

I missed both of these movies, actually, but it doesn't sound like I missed much. I thought Pride and Glory might have been decent, but I'll wait for a cable TV run if I see it at all.

Fox said...

I like this dual film review format...

Passengers is a such a weird release of a movie. This is absurd, but it feels like the movie has been hushed not to bother the possible Oscar turn by Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married.

Fletch said...

Daniel - no, you didn't miss much at all. They'll be perfect for a cable run.

Fox - Haha - thanks on the dual review comment. It's not done so much on purpose as out of necessity. I feel overwhelmed when I'm 3 reviews behind, so I look for a common thread and put 'em up two at a time...

Actually, I'm sure Passengers was released just to get it off the books by the end of the year. Though it's not possible, it feels like the movie was made about 10 years ago (answering machine, large home phone). It just has a dated smell to it, as well as a "this was made on the cheap in Canada" musk, as well as a "this should have been released in August" stench.

I'm thinking, if anything, the producers of Passengers waited until RGM came out so that they could piggyback onto the hype it's getting. Solid strategy, but I don't know how effective it was.

Angel said...

I watched this movie with a friend. She screamed so many times and I was like 'do you really need to scream?'. I haven't watch The Forgotten, so I can't say that they're similar. Streaming Free Movies in HD quality @ http://www.yayvideo.net

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