Year 9, Day 155 - 6/4/17 - Movie #2,650
BEFORE: And just like that, Movie Year 9 is now halfway over, with 150 movies crossed off. Now I've got to make some serious progress, since I've only made a 13-movie dent in the watchlist, so I'm on track to only get it down to 117 or so before the end of the year. And since I just got access to a pile of screeners and a bunch of films on Netflix, that probably won't happen, and soon I'll be at the point where I'll be forced to consider doing Movie Year 10.
Both Billy Bob Thornton and Anthony Mackie carry over from "Our Brand Is Crisis", which helps rescue this film from the unlinkables section of the list, where it probably languished for 6 months or so.
THE PLOT: Two strangers are thrown together by a mysterious phone call from a woman who threatens their lives and family, pushing them into a series of dangerous situations, using the technology of everyday life to track and control their every move.
AFTER: The tricky thing about using current technology to drive a movie's plot is that you run the risk of that film appearing outdated in just a few years. Someone here tried to take the tech that was new in 2008 - smartphones, drones, traffic cameras - and crunch it together into a projected future nightmare about what could happen if someone got all of these things working together. So in 2017 this feels really outdated because of the things that someone got wrong, and so it's a little quaint to think back to a time when the government might have been listening to all cell phone conversations, but we weren't sure. When the army had to launch drones by throwing them forward like paper airplanes, instead of getting them to take off vertically with those multiple fan-type things. And so on.
Perhaps because of all this, it seems to take too long for the pieces of the puzzle to come together here, and then when they do, it doesn't feel like they really connect, not completely anyway. What does a man whose more successful twin brother died while working for the military have to do with a woman whose son is going on a class trip to perform at the Kennedy Center in D.C.? Why did the man's tiny apartment suddenly fill up with weapons and military-grade chemicals overnight, without his knowledge, and why is there an enormous amount of money in his bank account? And that's all before the mysterious cell phone calls telling them to go here, jump out this window, break into this car, etc.
Meanwhile, the FBI agent who catches the man's case teams up with an agent from the Department of Defense to chase those two people across Chicago, and when they lose them, they start investigating the Defense Department to find out what's really going on, and who's pulling their strings. I won't give away the answer here, but considering what we know now about how Washington DC works, I can say that the reveal is quite ridiculous. We all know how the U.S. government gets taken over now, and it comes from Russia, not like this.
I think it's also a large leap from someone being able to listen to private cell phone calls and having access to traffic cameras and the like to being able to DO something constructive with it. And even then, if the mastermind behind the plan was so all-knowing as a master planner, why pick a woman who can't drive a stick-shift and then ask her to do exactly that? Furthermore, why ask two people to rob an armored car and not provide them with masks, or even nylon stockings to disguise their identities? No gloves either, so they probably left their fingerprints all over - that's some plan.
But the biggest NITPICK POINT to me is that no grade school band, even the best grade school band in the country, would ever sound this good. It sounded like a professional recording of the "Star-Spangled Banner", which it probably was - to be realistic they should have added some mistakes or out-of-tune instruments. Plus a grade school band probably wouldn't have the exact right balance of instruments to sound this good, it would probably sound violin-heavy or have not enough brass or something.
There are plenty more - like how does a trumpet get picked up in Chicago, delivered to a man who works on it, which presumably takes some time, and then shipped overnight to Washington DC, where it somehow arrives BEFORE the kid who took the train? No way, even FedEx would get it there the next morning, which would be too late. Assuming a 17 hour train trip from Chicago to DC, this is marginally possible, but extremely unlikely. There are at least a dozen other mistakes like this that I didn't catch, all listed in IMDB's "Goofs" section.
Also starring Shia LaBeouf (last seen in "Fury"), Michelle Monaghan (last seen in "Pixels"), Rosario Dawson (last seen in "Death Proof"), Michael Chiklis (last seen in "Nixon"), Ethan Embry (last seen in "Can't Hardly Wait"), William Sadler (last seen in "Iron Man 3"), Bill Smitrovich (last seen in "Ted 2"), and the voice of Julianne Moore (last seen in "Don Jon"), with cameos from Eric Christian Olsen (last seen in "The Thing (2011)), Marc Singer, Madylin Sweeten.
RATING: 5 out of 10 conveyor belts