Year 8, Day 107 - 4/16/16 - Movie #2,307
BEFORE: "The Martian" was something of a nexus point for me, linking branched out in four or five possible directions - but only one path gets me to two more superhero films in the next two weeks, and also gets me to where I want to be on Mother's Day. So Sean Bean carries over from "The Martian", and I kick off a Michael Douglas triple-play.
THE PLOT: When the daughter of a psychiatrist is kidnapped, he's horrified to discover that the abductors' demand is that he break through to a post traumatic stress disorder suffering young woman who knows a secret...
AFTER: The film starts with a bank heist gone wrong, one thief double-crosses the rest, and keeps the best loot for himself. Fast forward ten years, and the gang is back, looking to find their score, and the secret to that is somehow in the mind of an institutionalized teenager. And the secret to getting that secret is to go put a psychiatrist through the worst Thanksgiving Day ever. But there are plot problems, right from the start.
In some ways, this seems like a precursor to the "Taken" franchise, it even stars the same actress as the kidnapped girl's mother - but while it made sense to have Liam Neeson play a former spy, who would therefore possess the necessary "certain set of skills" to take a gang of kidnappers down, it makes much less sense for a psychiatrist to have those skills. OK, maybe he understands a bit about the criminal mind, but how did he get so good in a fight? How did he learn how to evade police, and where did he learn how to drive a motorboat? I have a feeling that once I start picking at the plot, the whole thing's going to unravel like a poorly-knit sweater.
So, let's begin: NITPICK POINT #1) When the gang robs the bank, bypassing a fortune in cash just to get at a particular safe-deposit box, they've got just two minutes to carry out the whole robbery. So if they know what they want, why do they spend a lot of time opening the box and rooting around in the contents (stocks, wads of cash, etc.) to find that thing? Why not take the whole box and sift through the contents later? Better yet, why not take 4 or 5 boxes, including that one they want, to make it look like a more random heist? As it is, the cops will find one opened box that's missing exactly ONE thing, and they'll sort of know what they were after. I can also question how they knew about that thing and where it was, but that's a pointless exercise, as the film doesn't seem interested in answering any specific questions.
NITPICK POINT #2) These criminals JUST got out of prison, after a 10-year stint. Where did they find the time and the resources to place cameras and microphones in (seemingly) every apartment in New York City? OK, maybe they targeted just a few people, but they got surveillance equipment inside a man's apartment, without his knowledge, as well as a cell at a psychiatric facility. How? And more importantly, when? The doctor's wife was home with a broken leg, so I suggest that there was no time when the apartment was unoccupied, during which they could have planted mikes and multiple cameras. I'm calling "shenanigans" on this one.
NITPICK POINT #3) There's some weird NYC geography going on here, with the psychiatrist working in Brooklyn, but living on the upper West Side. And why does he ask his wife what the cross street is as he's driving home? Doesn't he live there? How does he not know his own cross street? Then he has to get back to Brooklyn, during the Thanksgiving Day parade, and can't get through. Wasn't he planning to go to see the parade with his daughter? So wouldn't he therefore know the parade route, just as every New Yorker would? (A true New Yorker would know the entire parade route, just to make sure to be nowhere near it on that day...)
NITPICK POINT #4) So, the psychiatrist's daughter has the EXACT same type of doll that his patient had, when she was a kid? I guess it's possible, but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of types of dolls, so the odds are way against this. OK, so it symbolizes how alike the two girls are in some way, or possibly it's just a way to keep the budget down by buying one less prop. Either way, it's a little odd.
NITPICK POINT #5) The graves in a "Potter's Field" are not usually marked by individual gravestones or crosses. That's the whole point of a Potter's Field, the bodies are all lumped together, since they're unidentified, there's no need to separate them. Beyond that, how can this girl's father be buried in a Potter's Field, as if he were unidentifiable? There's a file on her, the doctors know her name, plus the police know the members of that gang - so is her father known, or unknown? This is very unclear. (Not to mention that we're led to question whether the girl is crazy or not, the movie can't seem to stay consistent on any point, small or large...)
I'm going to allow the fact that the characters in this film somehow travel to three different NYC boroughs in the same day, from Brooklyn to Manhattan to Brooklyn again, to Chinatown in Manhattan, and finally up near the Bronx - but again, it's Thanksgiving, maybe there's not much traffic because everyone's either watching football or asleep after a big turkey dinner. And I saw the thing with the numbers coming a mile away, even though there was a much simpler, more logical answer for the discrepancy that they did not use. Still, too many things just don't add up here.
The "Bridgeview" Psychiatric Center is fictional, of course, but there is a Manhattan Psychiatric Center, which is not on the island of Manhattan at all, it's on Randall's Island. We've passed it for years when we take the BQE up to see my parents at Christmas, and we usually joke about it (even though at the time we were mis-identifying it as Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, which is way the hell out in Queens). I'd always joke that after a few days at my parents' house, my wife should drop me off at Creedmoor on the way back. But it looks like they shot some of this there, that would be the only way to get that river view out of a patient's window.
Also starring Michael Douglas (last seen in "Disclosure"), Brittany Murphy (last seen in "Clueless"), Famke Janssen (last seen in "Rounders"), Oliver Platt (last seen in "Flatliners"), Jennifer Esposito (last seen in "Summer of Sam"), Skye McCole Bartusiak (last seen in "Against the Ropes"), Shawn Doyle, Victor Argo (last seen in "The Pick-Up Artist"), Paul Schulze (last seen in "Zodiac"), Conrad Goode, Guy Torry.
RATING: 3 out of 10 flip-phones