Thursday, April 28, 2016


I finally got to see this film today, a little late with the rest of the world, yet the wait was worth it. Staying away from every possible content regarding this film proved to be one of the best efforts I've made in my cinema-going life. There is no way other way to describe this film than thrilling, a triumph in tension, paranoia and adrenaline, one of those rides that reminds you why going to the cinema is such an experience.

Dan Trachtenberg has a very long and prosperous career ahead of him, this debut is one of the most surprising hits I've had in a long time from a first time director. The confidence with which this film is directed is astounding. The visual storytelling used is incredible when considering the setting and the limits it imposes. Yet the director finds a way to make every scene interesting visually and with the use of classic yet effective editing tricks every scene has a beat and a context made easily palpable thanks to this incredible direction.

Fortunately it does not end there: other than starting off what is a very remarkable script, the movie amongst its very merits has an terrific ensemble cast performance. All of the three are perfect casting. John Gallagher Jr. plays what could have been a throw away part with depth, he gives the slightly generically witted characterization a reason and purpose to the point that you buy into him in the first minute of screen time without ever thinking twice about it. Mary Elizabeth Winstead confirms her talent once again with a performance that grounds every element of tension thanks to fantastic blocking and eye movement. Yet, at the center of it all is a class act by John Goodman. This might be his best performance. I know it seems far fetched, but when you think about it the work on display here is immense material. The visual cues he adds to the persona, the paranoia he manages to inject in the film thanks to this almost schizophrenic attitude. And on top of this is a performance which isn't perceived as such as you watch the film, you just look at character for 100 minutes and you never feel like there's an actor in the middle.

All of the above basically sums up to one of the most tense experiences I can remember having in a theater recently. The adrenaline flowed through me was insane. Time and time again I screamed at the screen. It is so well built and organized. It builds and builds constantly, always using every lesson Hitchcok taught us, and culminates in a double finale that took my breath away. This is one of those physical experiences I cherish truly because the tension is so cathartic thanks to really, really good character development and without a doubt a score that deserves incredible praise and merit for the overall achievement.

If it can be blamed for something, trying not to give anything away, that is the confusion that is created by some story elements at the start and end. J.J. could not resist messing this up too. His obsession with mystery is really starting to get on my nerves because he really seems not to understand how it works. I was OK one time he did it, then twice, then again, then with Star Wars and now with this, which unmistakably feels like his meddling in it. Once again for every answer you are given, there is a story beat that opposes it and creates a loop of confusion. I could really start ranting endlessly about J.J. Abrams because he is a director that I really have a hard time getting behind, thankfully Trachtenberg is such a better one and he manages to overcome the majority of this issues by really putting focus on the main arch and themes, sidelining the parts that don't work so not to bother you too much.

This experience was a thrilling dream and I can't recommended it enough in the biggest and darkest cinema possible, you will not be disappointed.

James's Score: 8/10

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