Unthinkable is the new straight-to-DVD release from director Gregor Jordan. Unthinkable or what could easily be mistaken as 24: The Movie, tells the story of Steven Younger (Michael Sheen) a terrorist who claims to have planted three bombs across the USA. He releases a videotape letting us know that his bombs are capable of killing 10 million people and they will explode in three days.
Being the hero he thinks he is, Younger allows himself to be captured and subsequently tortured. Enter Agent Helen Brody (Carrie-Anne Moss) and H. (Samuel L. Jackson).
H. is an interrogator who is brought in to assist with extracting information from Younger. Agent Brody is the FBI agent assigned to the case. With limited time until the bombs explode and Younger standing tough, things get intense. Eventually Jackson decides it is time to get serious and tells us “what I have to do Agent Brody, is, (long pause) unthinkable”. And yes, in case you’re wondering, Jackson’s delivery of the line is as cheesy as the line itself.
This movie isn’t for everyone as the subject matter is sure to offend. One scene in particular is quite shocking and is probably one of the reasons the film couldn’t get picked up for theatrical distribution. It’s not so much the gore, blood or violence. It’s the torture, muslim and terrorist themes that make up the film that will offend people.
Sheen, in a full 360 degree from his role as David Frost in Frost/Nixon, brings an unflinching and frightening performance as Younger. He remains focused and totally encompassed in his character throughout all his scenes. As Younger, he brings a character who is driven and committed to achieving his goal. He is truly a frightening villain simply because he is ready for what will come and he knows what to expect. There really doesn’t seem to be any way to win with him. Sheen plays the role very well and his performance carries the film.
Carrie-Anne Moss delivers one of her better performances in recent memory. She gives the film heart and is the moral conscious of the film. You do sympathize with her since she is an unwilling participant in the events that transpire. She brings emotion to a film that is otherwise a very cut and dry affair.
Samuel L. Jackson, surprisingly was the weakest performance here. His acting was so wooden I had to pull the splinters out of my eye after the film ended. Not only was his delivery of almost all his lines just awful, but he looked so bored with the role. His boredom and urgency to wrap up shooting was apparent not only in scenes when he had dialog but even in scenes where he didn’t necessarily say anything.
Jackson could have done a lot with this role but instead he gives us a performance completely void of any intensity, anger or ferocity that as fans we are so used to. The whole time he was interrogating Sheen I couldn’t help to think “where is the Samuel L. Jackson that in ’94 asked audiences ‘what does Marcellus Wallace look like?’ What happened to Jackson in this film? If he didn’t want to be there, and that is what it looked like, why would he sign on?
The film also has some serious pacing issues. The first act is very slow compared to the second act. I nearly turned off the film at one point because I was so bored. The film does pick up though, and after about 30 or 40 minutes it starts to get enjoyable and real intense. The problem is, right when it starts to get good, it ends.
Aside from the entertaining mid-section, The vast majority of the film is unenjoyable and ill-contrived. It feels like once they got to the second half they had to finish it in a hurry and therefore couldn’t expand and flesh out the better half of the film.
Another problem is that the film’s ending lacks any real sense of closure. It leaves so much up in the air there is no real feeling of resolve at the end and this is a film where the audience needs resolve. I watched both the original ending and the alternate on the Blu-ray and neither work well. Neither give resolve nor leave us feeling satisfied or content.
The writing is also a bit flimsy. Take Moss’s character for example. One moment she is against the torture, the next she is for it and then a few minutes later she is back to being against it. Sheen’s character was also poorly developed. We never knew his true motives for any of his actions or what caused him to feel this hatred. Sheen is a great actor and could have evoked sympathy from the audience but due to the poor writing, we never really know enough about him to care about his situation. Even Jackson’s character lacked background. We never really know who he is. He’s simply just called in to interrogate the suspect. It leaves the audience asking questions as to why was he allowed to have carte blanche on the situation.
Things don’t get much better when it comes to the transfer. It’s an OK transfer at best but it does have some flaws. At certain scenes you may even be hard pressed to remember you’re watching a Blu-ray. Distracting grain appears frequently and the color levels never find a enjoyable medium. The depth and contrast is passable and detail is apparent in close-ups. This is far from one of the better looking Blu-rays out there.
The audio is a bit better than the video. Dialogue comes out crisp and clear and the mix distributes the score respectfully. There really isn’t much else though. This is not an action movie and most of the sound focuses on the dialogue, which it does handle well. Jackson’s incessant screaming is delivered clearly but, like the video, this isn’t a title you would show off.
Special features is where the disc really lacks. The list is as follows:
As you can see it’s a pretty pathetic offering. The extended version, like most extended versions, doesn’t offer anything significant. The commentary is actually pretty good and I did enjoy hearing director Gregor Jordan talk about his film. He talked about the subject matter of the film and the controversy surrounding it and it made for an enjoyable commentary. Aside from that though, there really is nothing else worth your time in the special features.
At the end of the day Unthinkable is a film that really should of been better than it turned out to be. The Blu-ray transfer and special features are forgettable and the film itself, while it does offer some intense and thrilling moments, ultimately amounts to nothing memorable.
Movie – 4 out of 10
Video - 5 out of 10
Audio – 7 out of 10
Extras – 2 out of 10
Bottom Line: Pass on this one, it simply isn’t worth your time. If for some reason you feel compelled to see this then a rent is all I could recommend.
BAMCinématek A new series entitled “Black & White ’Scope: American Cinema” commences this weekend, and, as for the series itself, with a Wilder double-bill on Friday: The Apartment and One, Two, Three. Manhattan screens on Saturday, while The Hustler can be seen this Sunday. Museum of the Moving Image The Gordon Willis tribute concludes with […]
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