I’m going to write something else that will surely piss people off: I think Nightcrawler is slightly overrated. It’s certainly a very good film, but it all hinges on the center performance of Jake Gyllenhaal. If the performance wasn’t so good, I don’t think it would have received so much acclaim. And it’s certainly a phenomenal performance as he perfectly exemplifies the a-typical sociopath, both from his lingering gaze and monstrous confidence.
There’s also great support from Rene Russo and the late Bill Paxton. But I gotta say guys, I saw the ending coming. During the middle of the film, I first started questioning where the film would go: how will Louis’ crimes and misdeeds be uncovered? You’re hoping that this asshole will be discovered for the truly repugnant waste of space he really is. But it quickly dawned on me that this is not that kind of movie.
This is the kind of movie where the asshole gets away. The kind of movie that shows that in America, the Asshole can really make it. In fact the asshole probably has a bigger chance of making it than the rest of us.
And so when he directs poor Rick (Riz Ahmed) to film the supposed dead armed criminal, I knew what was going to happen. I understand that the ending had a purpose: it’s partly a satire on the American dream, a dark spin on ”making it your dreams come true”, but the fact that I saw it coming diluted the experience from me. Admittedly, I also wanted the asshole to suffer terribly.
This little science-fiction horror film is a decent waste of time, especially if you wish to see Ryan Reynolds die a terrible death. The only things that truly bugged me was seeing the poor rat being consumed by the alien entity and that I saw the ending coming. The film takes place on a space station where an alien rums amok and starts killing the inhabitant astronauts. It’s basically an Aliens rip-off but with a bigger budget- and once again, Ryan Reynolds dies a terrible, terrible death, I can’t state this enough.
In order to defeat the alien, surviving astronaut David (Jake Gyllenhaal) hatches a heroic plan: he will lead the alien to his pod and then will direct the Pod into the void of space while the other surviving astronaut Miranda (Rebbecca Ferguson) will take the one pod back to earth. I quickly gathered that there will be a switcheroo.
It’s not a bad ending. It’s dark and cruel. But you feel it coming due to the length of the final scene, where a fisherman approaches the pod floating in the water. It does work however because of Ferguson’s fantastic performance as she desperately howls inside her pod as she descends into nothingness- it gives a whole meaning to ”in space no one can hear you scream.”
3. Lucky Number Slevin
This film has such an amazing cast that I wouldn’t exactly recommend to ”skip” this film, but if you’re familiar with the crime genre, it’s not going to show you anything new. Besides the dumb title, the film’s twist is so freaking obvious that it will make you groan. The revelation is also edited in such a way, as if the filmmakers really thought that this was going to blow your mind.
The film acts like the ending has a devilish Usual Suspects-esque ending, but you can easily guess that Slevin turns out to be the avenging boy who orchestrated his convoluted revenge against two rival mobsters (played respectively by Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley) and a corrupt bookie (Stanley Tucci)
The film makes allusions to deception, a metaphor for the film’s twist. But the film cannot deceive anyone. It’s just a run-of-the mill, average crime film. Its inspirations of Pulp Fiction, Usual Suspects etc. are painfully obvious. The black humor speckled throughout the narrative isn’t anything noteworthy. The film has many great performers from Lucy Lui, Bruce Willis, Danny Aiello and Robert Forster- but none can make an impression here. It’s just a forgettable film that should have done more with its awesome cast.
2. Would You Rather
The title and premise seems like your run-of-the mill Saw Copy. But it’s not exactly that. It has deeper ambitions than being a tired product of torture porn. It really wants to say something about the lengths we would go for our loved ones. In that it sort of succeeds. The film boasts a well-enough cast and some suspense that you’re intrigued throughout the film.
The film takes place mostly in a mansion of Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs) where several contestants engaged in a deadly Would You Rather game. The victor will receive financial compensations and the contestants sickly friend or family member, would receive the necessary medical treatment. And if you lose, well, you’re fucked.
In the end, The lead, Iris (Brittany snow), is left alongside goodhearted Lucas (Enver Gjokaj) and she receives a choice: kill Lucas and her dying little brother will be saved or leave alongside Lucas, with her little brother’s fate up to God. The ending is similar to Cheap Thrills, where the good protagonist turns into a monster at the end of the film.
But that’s not the twist. The real twist, which I saw coming a mile away, is that when she comes home, she discovers that her brother committed suicide- his reason being that he feels guilty that her whole young life revolved around his wellbeing and that he wants her to have a life. He feels he was the obstacle so he must destroy himself.
This ending was signposted earlier on. You just know that her return home, which is unusually drawn out that she will see the body of her dearly beloved brother. But even before this, I knew it was going to happen. I knew it from the moment the young brother made mention about her lack of social life. I understand the meaning of the ending and it’s not a bad film, I just wish there was more to that ending.
1. Hide and Seek
Robert de Niro remains one of my favorite performers but he’s starred in a string of lackluster films and Hide and Seek is certainly one of them. The worst part is that you can guess the ending from the trailer.
De Niro plays a widowed father whose worried about her daughter (Dakota Fanning) whose behavior becomes increasingly disturbing. It seems to be inspired by her imaginary friend named Charlie. There are bloody messages strewn around the house. Eventually people get killed by this imagery friend. Can you guess the twist?
Yup de Niro is Charlie all along. And big surprise, he killed his wife too after he discovered her infidelity. Big whoop. It’s such a lame and tired climax.
As you can read from the above entries, most of the lame twist concern identity-deception. The villain turns out to be the film’s hero. Other entries like this includes Number 23 (anybody remember that Jim Carrey ”gem”) and Switchblade Romance. We should retire this trope and perhaps just focus on a good story instead of trying to pull the rug out from under the audience.
A good twist changes the story in a different way, it makes you think- like Gone Baby Gone, Se7en or The Crying Game. It’s about how the twist adds to the film’s meaning or changes it. It’s supposed to be transcendent, not just give you a cheap thrill.