Wednesday Film Roundup (6/21/2017)

Fury of a Patient Man (Tarde para la ira) (2016)

Director:   Raúl Arévalo

This is a very well done Spanish noir revenge thriller that combines realism and narrative power.  The plot:  José is a taciturn guy who likes to hang out at a drab neighborhood bar.  He spends enough time there to catch the eye of the equally drab waitress.

It turns out that the waitress is connected to some people who José is looking for; he never tells her this, of course, and this duplicity adds to the film’s conspiratorial tone.  We eventually are made to realize that José has an elaborate plan–one that he has spent years preparing–to take his revenge on some jewelry store robbers who murdered his girlfriend and put his father in a coma.

How all this plays out is what makes The Fury of a Patient Man such a tense thriller.  We, the viewers, know what José is planning, but no one else does.  This invests every scene with a simmering tension that can–and does–break through the surface with violence.  Interestingly, the movie does not spend any time debating whether José is morally justified in taking his revenge.  The director probably concluded, with good reason, that that ground has already been covered in many previous revenge films. He has no desire to bore us with characters torn between conflicting impulses.  In this movie, the protagonist knows exactly what he wants, and how he intends to get it.  There are no fake apologetics, no insincere impositions of guilt on the audience.  The result is a stripped-down, gritty blend of drama and action that delivers us exactly what it should.


The Double (2011)

Director:  Michael Brandt

A rather generic, boilerplate spy film.  Lots of car chases, scenes of guys hunched over computers, and shootouts, but it doesn’t add up to very much worth remembering.  The plot:  Richard Gere plays an old CIA hand who is “called back from retirement” when his old agency learns that a Soviet super-assassin named “Cassius” may still be alive.  To solve the crime of a murdered senator, Gere’s character teams up with a rookie (how many times have we seen this plot device) agent named Ben (Topher Grace).  So we have two guys hot on the trail of some mystery man; and the more the film drags on, the more it looks like one of the hunters may in fact be the hunted.  This may sound like an exciting script, but there is no soul to this film, no real spirit.  And it shows.

This is uninspired filmmaking, the equivalent of painting by the numbers.  The chemistry between the two leads is nonexistent, and the viewer is given no reason to invest any interest in the plot.  Not a terrible film, but not one particularly worth watching if you have better options.


The Trust (2016)

Directors:   Alex Brewer, Benjamin Brewer

This is a nice little gem of a heist film.  Very well done.  The dynamic between the two leads (Nicholas Cage and Elijah Wood), combined with a great script, are what make this a very entertaining crime drama.  This is a great film, because it manages to convey some deep messages without coming across as condescending.  The plot:  two amoral police officers working in Las Vegas spend their days drinking and being cynical.  They seem to be two peas in a pod, and they are.  During a routine investigation, one of the officers (played by Cage) notices that a suspect may have some rich and powerful friends.  He enlists the help of his listless friend (Wood) to explore further.

The two of them eventually discover the existence of a secret vault.  What do they do then?  Decide to rob it, of course.  But even the most perfect of plans always has something unexpected in store for the unscrupulous.  And these two renegades get far more than they bargained for.  Make no mistake:  this is a dark film.  Although it was billed as a rote heist movie, The Trust packs a punch that viewers won’t fully appreciate until the film’s final five minutes.

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