Okay, this is a toughie. We left the theater wondering what we'd just seen. Was it an awful mess of a mashup, or a much smarter, sleeker, subversive film that should really make you think? Tell you the truth, I'm still not sure. My 13-year old daughter has eloquently defended much of the confusion of the movie as deliberate, to show character frames of reference. Feral child, paranoid dad, obsessive-psycho baddie lady. Hmm. As the movie is about the confused coming-of-age of a lethal child prodigy, there may well be something there. I was going to trash it as an out-of-control failed experiment, but I think it's much more.
It's difficult to think of the director knowing what they're doing, when a movie seems way out of control. But it's possible. This is being advertised as a Hollywood-style big budget action flick, but it should really have been shown in arthouses and indie festivals. Having a foot in both worlds, however, gets it welcomed in neither.
What should we think of a film that mixes elements of a dozen different types of movies, Fellini symbolism, fairy tales, a coming-of-age story, a revenge/action flick, a big government-psycho-genetic-experiment-gone-wrong thriller, and a director enamored of long, slow pans and extended, lingering shots of unchanging facial expressions?
My first thought was that it's another of the current horrible trends of moviemaking-- throw everything against the wall, in the hopes something will stick.
While moviegoers don't need everything spelled out for them and wrapped up at the end, should they all leave the theater scratching their heads in complete baffled puzzlement? The big problem- so much of the time it seems the filmmakers didn't know what kind of movie they were making. So it looks like they threw everything in the blender and hoped for the best. That's why I reacted with scorn- that kind of moviemaking is crap, it's sloppy, and it's lazy.
The director loves the film Run, Lola, Run, and he replicates that, showing people in open-handed sprints to pounding techno music. Okay, you want that to illustrate your point, but there's too much of it.
Nice hommage references to the 30's German movie 'M', as the psycho assassin stalks the child. But there are too many references to bits and pieces of other, better things. Characters and settings seem like leftovers from other movies. People are paraded across the stage with an interesting quirk or two, and then we dash off to something else. We jump and juke from one disjointed image to the next, in a story version of ADD. Is it because there is no control, or is that really the point?
At first I thought it was like a failed Saturday Night Live skit, where the bong-hits produced an interesting idea that didn't go anywhere, and went on too long.
Now I'm re-evaluating, and that in itself is good. I like movies that make me think, while many people say they don't. The case can be made either way for this one- confusing, pretty mess, or pointed, arthouse barb in disguise?
They do present it as a fairy tale, and in fairy tales magic happens; things do not have to believable, or rational. If I look on it like that, the movie makes better sense.