At one point when I was just discovering how amazing cinema was, I was a huge fan of the classic Seventies political thrillers like The Parallax View this harks back to at times. I probably still am, though I haven’t even so much as watched All The President’s Men as recently as I’d like. Perhaps needless to say, at this time of year, with a no-name director at the helm, a title that doesn’t quite gel, and despite the cast, I really didn’t expect this to even touch those classics. Well, to be as brisk with my point as the movie itself is at 86 minutes … I was very pleasantly surprised.
To call this a thriller is an understatement. There’s one point – you’ll know it when you see it, I don’t wanna spoil anything but let’s just say “little girl, middle of the road” – where I literally almost started hyperventilating. As you may have heard, the movie covers the same succession of events – the shooting of a president followed by a series of explosions somewhere in Spain – from multiple points of view. On more than one occasion, these snippets reach an unbearable peak only to freeze and “wind back” to another perspective just before the end is revealed. It’s at times overwhelmingly effective, and to say it’s a movie with twists is the second understatement you could make of it.
For me, it’s the Forest Whitaker “segment” that will really stay with me and that I’ll come back for. It’s always interesting to see what actors do after they win an Oscar and while this does slightly follow the old, “now I’ll do a dumb blockbuster” thing that I think began with Nicolas Cage following Leaving Las Vegas with The Rock, I think more interesting here is how vastly different Whitaker’s character is here from Idi Armin. He plays almost literally a nobody who just happens to get caught up in the story and he does it so endearingly and believably I was on the verge of tears just watching him be so natural before the stuff with the little girl.
No, it’s not up there with the 70s classics – it’d need to be 30 minutes longer and put in a blender with either last year’s American Gangster or Zodiac for that. It is, however, the kind of pure ride I haven’t seen in a while. I remember the interviews with Jennifer Garner and Jamie Foxx over last year’s The Kingdom and while I got nothing from that production it almost seems like this is the movie they were selling. I really loved it.