Film Review: Wreckers

It seems that you cannot move this year without bumping into a film that stars Benedict Cumberbatch. Since his CGI appearance as Smaug in the desolate Hobbit adventure, 2014 has seen him enter my life in: August Osage County, 12 Years A Slave, The Imitation Game and The Fifth Estate and that’s before you remember that I still have The Hobbit finale to come before the year is out. And Wreckers is now another film you can add to the list.

I’ve repeatedly stated that I find Cumberbatch to be one of those actors where I struggle to see past the person and into the character. It’s not that he’s a bad actor, he certainly isn’t, it’s just his face is so defined, individual and almost devoid of natural variation when portraying emotion that everything slowly blends into itself. He is one of the few actors where actions have to speak louder than words, and it’s a difficult trick to do. But even with my issue, I still gravitate towards him, and enjoy the films he produces.

Claire Foy - Wreckers

So, with Cumberbatch on board, and flanked by a cast of “familiar” faces from British TV in Claire Foy, Shaun Evans and Peter McDonald, Wreckers seemed like it would be a safe bet. It’s a film that I really didn’t know anything about, or what to expect and sadly, by surrounding a yet to fully emerge star with a cast more accepting of the small screen, rather than drag them to his level, he succumbed to theirs. The result being a feature film that feels produced for the small screen but totally uneasy on it.

It just didn’t work for me. The way it is shot makes you feel like you are observing a story and nothing more. It manages to create this tone of being fictional, but then doesn’t utilise the depth of freedom that invention should provide. It creates a story that I just found repulsive. If you really start looking deeply at it, deeper than it probably deserves, it’s a dark and haunting psychological tale of PTSD, responsibility, trust and consequence. But it takes such a weak angle in it’s presentation of these topics, that it just comes across as a bunch of shallow people setting out to lie, hurt and blame each other.

And the attitude of it’s characters and their fractional interactions meant I never once even came close to connecting with them. More over, the longer it went on the more I grew to dislike them. I never felt any warmth, empathy, or passion either from or for them and everything just adds together to leave me very glad that I don’t know anybody in real life like them. They are the true embodiment of the question: who needs enemies when you’ve got friends?

Benedict Cumberbatch - Wreckers

While Cumberbatch may be bogged down by those around him, it was the first time a performance from him has actually carried any real intensity that I have felt coming from the screen. The tone of the film guarantees that he cannot relax into the “isolated genius” role that people claim he is stereotyped into: Turring, Assange, Sherlock Holmes. And instead, forces the dark twisted side of his character to really shine through. I still couldn’t see him as anything other than Benedict Cumberbatch playing a role, but this was a dark, intense, twisted role that left me slightly chilled. It’s a fitting glimpse into potential future ability and an obvious example as to why he is now so in demand.

I think the strangest thing with Wreckers though, is the fact that the longer the film went on, and the more problems I started to develop with it, also the more I started to enjoy it. There is so much to dislike, to withdraw from as I’ve explained, yet for all of this at it’s heart is this basic premise of a destructional situation, a ticking time bomb, just waiting for the fuse that sets it all off. And when it does get ignited, the narrative picks up the pace and starts to dart here, there and everywhere. It twists and turns, but never in the way I predicted, in the way I thought I saw coming. Every guess I got wrong because every angle was different. A never took me to B. And I liked that.

It’s just a shame, that it’s too little and swamped by too much, to make Wreckers into a mediocre, let alone good film.

5 out of 10 stars (5 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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