This week has been a strange one, in relation to the movies I’ve seen. They are movies worth talking about (for one reason or another), but I struggle to find anything to get excited about or focus on at any point I feel passionately about. I find that the best way to review these movies would be by…GIFs and I’m not kidding; GIFs are an easy way to set up expectations or convey information or a particular situation to someone through pop culture or understanding of the context.
So, for example, Venom: Let there be Carnage would be a shoulder shrug GIF; the one of Joey from Friends in particular. I left the theater and until I got home, neither I nor my friends had anything to say about the movie; they thought it was too silly, I thought it made me laugh a few times and I wasn’t really bored by it, so we all shrugged it off. Director Andy Serkis did find the right chemistry between Venom and Tom Hardy’s character Eddie Brock as their interactions are the few highlights the movie provides the audience with, but as far as action, characterization, interesting storylines, there is nothing to excite or even anger. It’s a movie that washes over you in the worst possible way; you just exist and feel no boredom or excitement by watching it, you simply laugh at points and try to ignore all the silliness that would ruin the experience, and try to focus on the goofiness that would enhance it until it’s done; then you forget about it completely within the middle of next week. The usually reliable Hardy and always entertaining Woody Harrelson do provide some decent performances, while the rest of the cast feels the exact same numbness the audience feels and sleepwalk their way through the movie. I’d say this movie may be worth keeping in the background while doing chores at home, so wait for a streaming release and a few chores to pile up.
The other two movies are already on streaming, as they are Netflix Originals, starting with The Guilty, the movie equivalent of the thumbs up GIF; specifically, the kid with the blue polo shirt sitting in front of a computer. This is a pretty good crime thriller with a compelling story, a great performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, and directed by Antoine Fuqua with great experience and leadership; I was just expecting something that was more interesting. It has a pretty cool “gimmick” in that, it makes the viewer follow the action through the eyes of a 911 operator, instead of the actual people in the fire-line. That is a pretty cool way of saving on budget costs (as the entire movie is shot on one location) and to deliver an experience that is different, with a premise that is not; this is about the audience feeling as helpless and powerless as most operators do when they are on the line with people whose life is in grave danger. It’s a testament to how difficult and demanding that job is on a mental and psychological level, conveyed perfectly by Gyllenhaal’s performance and the story written by Nic Pizzolatto of True Detective fame. There is nothing negative to say about it, besides maybe the fact that it does steer a bit too much on some cliches and tropes that don’t serve the story or the experience, but mostly my contention point with it is that I never sat up at any point; I felt like I knew where this was going and never cared enough or was immersed enough to sit up when something was revealed or when stakes were raised. There was so much in that movie that could have made my nerd sensors go off, like the movie dealing with restrictions to locations or the passage of time, but it never surprised or wowed me in any way; that’s not necessarily a bad thing in this case, as I expected a certain level of quality and got exactly that, but it was a measured expectation and I had hoped for more from a great actor, a great director, and a great writer.
Lastly, there was Intrusion and the predictable yikes GIF (I like the one with Donald Glover pulling his collar and making silly faces) that I had hoped would be different; I really like Logan Marshall-Green and Freida Pinto is a good actor, and the talent behind the scenes is not half-bad. Directed by Adam Salky (I know him from I smile back) and written by Chris Sparling (who wrote Buried and 2020’s Greenland), there was enough for this project to at least be mediocre, yet there is nothing mediocre about this movie. The actors are terrible (towards the end, they both fall into the “so bad its good” hole), the script is non-sensical or even remotely engaging, and the directing is woeful especially considering the poor performances from the actors and the complete lack of chemistry between the two leads. There is nothing to save this movie from falling to obscurity besides a few corny lines in the end (that got a few good laughs out of me) and a few moments of unintentional hilarity scattered throughout; its not even worth dissecting to see its errors, I would rather read about them or engage with a movie that feels like it wanted to succeed at some point. “So bad it’s good” fans will also be disappointed by the same lack of ambition or passion that usually leads to bold decisions or sloppy mistakes that lead to “so bad its good” movies; heck, it might be the worst movie I have seen thus far and I can’t build up the frustration to be mad at it because it feels so defeatist to do that – it’s like getting angry at an old person not understanding technology. There is such passive energy to them and a complete lack of interest where you can’t get mad at them and just show them what they want and move on; which is what you should do with Intrusion when you see it on your Netflix feed: Move on.