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American Horror Story has finished its third season with one of the most entertaining episodes in the past two years. But, honestly, the naming of Cordelia Foxx as Supreme was a twist we saw coming. There wasn’t much character development for her, or any of the people who survived to the final episode, to bring a sense of closure. There were so many dropped plot-points and extraneous characters, and something’s got to give. These past two seasons of American Horror Story have been sloppy and don’t shine a candle to Season 1.
Here are some rules that American Horror Story would be wise to follow for its upcoming years on FX.
1. Keep It Simple. These past two seasons had so much going, a satisfying conclusion was nearly impossible. Coven focused on everyone but the coven – a sadistic slave owner, vengeance-obsessed voodoo priestess, crazy Christians, an axe murderer, witch-hunters, and zombies all stole focus from the witches and their storyline. It’s hard enough to put that in a cohesive sentence let alone a cohesive season. Asylum had a lot going on, too. There was a horror-movie style serial killer, Nazi doctor, mutant horde, demon possession, and aliens. It’s just sloppy storytelling to have a world with all those things existing in the same place. This isn’t The Avengers. Why not have a guest appearance by Falcor the flying dog?
2. Don’t Forget Character Development. Despite great lines and the highest caliber of actors to date, there were so many extraneous characters played by star names the series ignored core characters. The first episode and final episode featured the same characters, but we didn’t learn more about them over the course of the season. Still, Jessica Lange is such an amazing actor that she did so much with a pretty one-dimensional character: a snarky woman obsessed with immortality.
3. Less Stunt Casting. Part of the appeal of American Horror Story is the cast returns in new and interesting ways. With big names, there’s pressure to keep extraneous characters on the show longer. Then they have to conveniently leave before the season finale. Why did we know more about Delphine LaLaurie than the titular coven of witches? Her character didn’t further the plot at all. Patti LuPone’s character was resurrected for no logical reason. The Axeman?!?
4. Keep the Characters Together. The first two seasons kept all the characters in the same place, which allowed for more story and character development. So much action took place outside of Miss Robichaux's Academy that the coven lost focus. There was no reason why the school couldn’t have been Delphine’s old estate with her buried in the backyard. Why couldn’t Angela Bassett and Patti LuPone play members of the Witches Council? These detours robbed us from getting to know some amazing characters like Misty Day, Myrtle Snow, and Zoe Benson.
5. Don’t Drop the Ball on Important Plot Points. The writers come up with really great ideas then throw them away in favor of plotholes. Zoe had an interesting power with her killer vag, she defeated super-witch Marie Laveau’s magic, and reanimated a ghost. Why wasn’t she the Supreme or the Antichrist or something more interesting than Kyle’s girlfriend? How could Queenie ressurect Misty Day but not Zoe? Queenie left to go study voodoo with Marie but didn’t come back with any new power. These are all missed opportunities.
6. Know How It's Going to End. It’s nice when a show includes clues for the discerning watcher. However, some shows Lost have made it a valid choice for writers to not know how things will end. The first episode introduces Zoe in Coven and aliens in Asylum but nothing happens at all. It also seems the writers didn’t know who the Supreme was going to be. All signs pointed to Zoe or Madison. Conveniently, having Madison’s death make Cordelia the Supreme is an interesting mystery to leave unsolved. But it seems more a result of sloppy storytelling than intention. If Cordelia was set to be the Supreme all along at least make her a more vital part of the series. There was never a scene of an actual class at this school.
7. Give Characters the Exit/Death they Deserve. In Asylum, Sister Mary Eunice becomes possessed by the Devil and becomes the most interesting character on the show. She had a Sam/Diane attraction to Nazi Dr. Arthur Arden. They both were major antagonists but died in anticlimactic ways with no resolution to their storylines.
8. No More Racism. The Nazi storyline didn’t come to a crescendo last season, so what was the purpose of going to Anti-Semitism? This season’s irresponsible treatment of its black characters was also an epic fail. It's completely implausible for an immortal super witch, who charges 10,000 a spell, to spend her free time doing hair at a ratchet beauty salon. It didn’t come off as ironically humorous as much as flat out racist. The season-long slavery arc was also a bit much.
9. Don’t Shock to Shock. The multiple molesting moms this season were gratuitous because they didn’t further the story or their sons’ characters. If you're going to go there at least make a point.
10. More Lily Rabe! She’s the best part of the past two seasons. ‘Nuff said.
This episode focused a lot on periphery characters and, as usual, unnecessary plot twists. YAY! Hey, kids ... can you spell implausible plot development?
The episode begins with a little boy and his father in a picturesque forest. They’re having a bonding trip and you know that someone is going to shoot Bambi’s mother. However, instead of an innocent hunting trip, these two men are hunting a poor defenseless woman in the forest with bad teeth and an unfortunate wig. However, if you’re a witch in the forest, where are you going to get leave-in conditioner? It’s revealed to be Hank Foxx (Josh Hamilton).
Meanwhile, back at Ryan Murphy’s version of Beauty Shop, Angela Bassett (Marie Laveau) is slumming it acting wise playing a racial stereotype. An immortal necromancer with untold magical powers, yet she can’t update her salon’s '70s décor. Shut your mouth, because she got the shaft, character-wise. Meanwhile, Precious Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) gives up the lap of luxury with her own, slightly racist, maid to run phones at a beauty shop? How is that in any way believable?
Meanwhile, back in the plot, Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) arrives at the salon to return the head of Madam Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) that was so rudely left on her doorstep. She proposes the two leaders combine forces to defeat the witch hunters. To which Marie replies with a stereotypical epitaph like “Nah, Girl!” or “Oh, no you didn’t!” She has Queenie take Delphine’s head to burn it. Instead, Queenie decides to force a reanimated talking head to watch Roots, The Color Purple, and old news footage from the segregation era.
Back at Douche, Inc., Hank shows up to report on his progress with the New Orleans witches. Apparently, his father is head witch hunter, has passed Hank over for second-in-command, and is running a company that is a smokescreen for a secret line of witch hunters. Also, he has no name. It’s revealed that the person who blinded Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson) was her own father-in-law, Random Unnamed Witch hunter aka Hank’s Dad.
Cordelia does her best attempt to set blind people back 50 years. She shows you that blind people can’t do anything without dropping things. Call me crazy, but wouldn’t she have some training or a nurse before she is set to try and make eggs on her own? Also, as the daughter of the Supreme, is there no way to give her some sort of superhuman compensation for sight besides unhelpful premonitions? Even Daredevil could smell and see things via sonar.
Frizzy Day Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) decides to make an elaborate meal for her old Witch Council pals, The French Teacher from that Richard Grieco movie (Robin Bartlett) and that little guy from Will & Grace (Leslie Jordan). She takes their eyes out with a melon-baller and has some sort of dance party while cutting up their remains. Myrtle and Fiona have a little tête-à-tête when Fiona learns about Cordelia’s new eyes. Then, Cordelia and Misty Day (Lily Rabe) have a little playtime with magic and make an elaborate potion to resurrect a plant. Isn’t that Misty’s pre-existing power?
In the worst use of a Tony winner storyline, Joan Ramsey (Patti LuPone) is resurrected while her son, Luke Ramsey (Alexander Dreymon), is in a coma. Why would Fiona have her resurrected? It makes no sense at all. Am I right? Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga) and Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) come to retrieve Nan (Jamie Brewer). However, she has not been able to see Luke. So they re-enact Ghost with Nan recounting secrets about Luke’s childhood. Suddenly, Joan changes her tune, literally, until Luke starts sharing secrets from beyond the grave ... like how Joan murdered his father. And yet, to review, who cares? LuPone is an amazing actress and singer but who cares if the witches’ neighbor has drama, too? These are periphery characters and there isn’t enough plot development in the stories that matter like back at the beauty shop.
After being threatened by his father and the Voodoo Queen, losing his wife, and having a verbal lashing by Fiona, Hank decides to kill all the witches ... in Marie’s beauty shop. He brings blessed silver bullets and takes them all down. He shoots Marie in the arm but before he can kill her, a wounded Queenie uses her voodoo doll powers to shoot him in the head. Marie shows up at the school ready to combine forces.
Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) has a brief respite from her advancing sickness. After the attempt on her life, she seems in good spirits and as powerful as ever. However, someone is still going to depose her as ruler of the witches of Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies. Here are the candidates for the next Supreme and possible reasons why they might just end up being Mary Wilson. (Note for non-Motown heads: She was famous for being a founding member of The Supremes but had a high-profile feud with Diana Ross and was briefly poor for a while.)
Why She’s The Supreme: Misty (Lily Rabe) has the power of resurgence. Resurrecting the dead is one of the mysterious seven wonders. Unlike everyone she has resurrected, she is in near perfect condition. Why She’s Mary Wilson: It’s too early in the season and she might be a red herring. Also, she’s Myrtle Snow’s pick for Supreme and as gifted a witch as Myrtle is, she’s a little cuckoo for Coco Puffs.
Why She’s The Supreme: Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) has a killer nether region, which seems like a unique power. Also, she was able to break a spell by Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) remotely and knock her on her butt. She rematerialized The Axeman and he seems to be back to life. That, technically, could be considered a 7th wonder resurrection. Also, the first episode began with her so she’s a major protagonist in the story. Why She’s Mary Wilson: It’s a little obvious. The audience will see it coming. She also isn’t the most adept at magic. Her spells never really work out the way she wants.
Why She’s The Supreme: Madison (Emma Roberts) has telekinesis which is Fiona’s primary power. She also developed pyrokinesis and Fiona suddenly got sicker. Fiona also took a spell when Madison was resurrected. Also, after being resurrected, despite advanced rotting, she seems in fairly decent condition. Now that she’s back to life she’s still in the running for America’s Next Top Witch Ruler. Why She’s Mary Wilson: She did die ... pretty easily. Also, while she was dead, she didn’t have any magical protection from becoming a plaything for a necrophiliac with a doll fetish.
Why She’s The Supreme: Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) bridges the two worlds of witchcraft and voodoo. She also isn’t the most likely choice. The fact that Marie Laveau wants to use her to destroy the coven of witches could be a hint. Also, when she learns of Marie’s betrayal it’d be an awesome smackdown if she had Supreme power. Why She’s Mary Wilson: She isn’t a series regular on the show so she may not survive joining the voodoo clan. Also, Fiona healed her with magic. If that happened wouldn’t she, via magic physics, get sicker on the spot if one Supreme healed another?
Why She’s The Supreme: Nan (Jamie Brewer) is the least likely choice. She has stayed in the sidelines and hasn’t had much of a role in the major storylines. It would be the penultimate WTF moment. Also, Ryan Murphy does like to give actors with Down Syndrome a voice. On Glee, Becky (Lauren Potter) was at the center of some major reveals as well. Why She’s Mary Wilson: Despite a strong grasp on her own magic, she hasn’t really shown any prominent magical skill outside her own ability.
Remember that firestarter that had freak nasty sex with Hank Foxx (Josh Hamilton) then got shot? Her name was Kaylee (Alexandra Breckenridge). Why She’s The Supreme: If we are not discounting anyone resurrected like Misty and Madison, there’s no reason why Kaylee couldn’t be The Supreme. Also, she was such a scene-stealer when she played the younger Moira the maid in American Horror Story: Murder House. It also looks like she will be resurrected in the episode “Head.” Why She’s Mary Wilson: It would be a huge leap to upgrade such a minor character to The Supreme. We just want to cover our bases.
Why She’s The Supreme: Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) is the daughter of The Supreme. To date, we haven’t seen any of her abilities to know if she has had the power all along. Also, she’s repressed a lot of her power until now. When she went blind, she was instantly given a second sight. Could that be a forced manifestation of her supremeness? Why She’s Mary Wilson: It might be too much of a leap for her to be the Supreme all this time and not kill Fiona. It also would be a little misguided to make her the Supreme. However, the writers of American Horror Story have done crazier things. Remember the aliens last year?
FX/Michele K. Short
Precious Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) does her best Buffy the Vampire Slayer impression by walking through the hood and slaying her attacker. The difference is she steals his heart for a potion for Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett). She has a brief confrontation with Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga) and Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) who conveniently know exactly where she is. This meeting comes out of nowhere. Magic doesn’t give writers a free pass to not explain things. How does everyone know where everyone else is? And yet, how are there still “secrets?”
Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) is dying of advanced cancer and Supreme exhaustion. So she decides to have a nice long monologue about it. What’s the cure for what ails ya? More sex with a weird reanimated specter of a serial killer (Danny Huston). As great as the casting choice of Huston may be, his character is a gratuitous storyline that will doubtfully have the payoff we want. So you are a corporeal, jazz loving, witch hating, sex having ghost ... what’s next? Do you go to Disney World?
Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) is back! Her skin is still a little extra crispy from getting burned at the stake. She awakens in just enough time to save Misty Day (Lily Rabe) from getting shot by witch hunters. Then, randomly, for the first time ever, Misty arrives at Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies That Don’t Need Adult Supervision, with Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson) actually alert and in attendance. Cordelia touches Misty and boom she knows everything and welcomes back Myrtle and everyone is one big happy, Fiona-hating family.
The witches decide to have a ritual called The Sacred Taking which involves wearing red capes and doing absolutely nothing. The ritual, when combined with the suicide or murder of The Supreme, brings about the ascendance of the next supreme. Doesn’t the death of The Supreme do that already? Hello gratuitous rituals! What follows is a trippy dream sequence with Myrtle and Madison capitalizing on the fact that Fiona doesn’t know they’re alive. Fiona tries to kill herself but is conveniently saved by Spaulding (Denis O’Hare) who is now a ghost. This is all just a little too convenient. Clearly, the writers have no intention of killing off the star of the show so why waste time entertaining the impossible.
Meanwhile, Nan (Jamie Brewer) is wondering why no one believes she could be the supreme. She’s still pining for her love interest Luke Ramsey (Alexander Dreymon) but he is busy getting an enema for Jesus. No lie! His controlling mother (Patti Lupone) wants to wash him from the inside. And yet, that isn’t the most inappropriate mother-son scene all season. Nan runs over to check on Luke and run away with him only to get both mother and son shot by witch hunters.
Then in a complete crack attack of bad storytelling, Fiona puts on a turban and is good as new. Apparently, the ipecac Spaulding gave her cured cancer because she’s suddenly in tiptop shape. She convinces Misty to revive Joan of Arc Ramsey (Lupone). Meanwhile, Cordelia’s power is apparently to reveal plot-holes. She finds a bullet and learns there are witch hunters.
On the island of Misguided Threeways, after playing with a learning game Zombie Kyle (Evan Peters) has learned enough diphthongs to tell Zoe “I love you” conveniently in earshot of Madison.
Then in a plot-point ripped from the pages of a successful movie script headlines, a box arrives on the doorstep of the Miss Robichaux's. "What's in the box?!" It's the head of everyone's favorite immortal, fast-food loving, racist Madam Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates).
Witches Be Trippin’ Moments
How can witches so readily find each other but not know other things? If the girls can find Queenie ... how is it Cordelia never found her husband at Marie Laveau’s?
Why the heck is Madam LaLaurie so tight with the witches? She was a racist torturer. Why does she get a free pass?
What is Marie Laveau’s beef with the witches? If she originally enlisted Hank Foxx (Josh Hamilton) to kill the witches that pre-dates Fiona freeing Delphine and insulting her in her shop. This means she always meant to kill them. But wasn’t she the one to originally create a treaty with the witches? Did this just never get explain or is it just easy to make Angela Basset the villain?
How is Nan clairvoyant but unable to see anything coming?
Did they really steal the end of this episode from the popular movie Se7en?
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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If given the choice of which witch’s power from American Horror Story Coven is the best, what would we choose? Well, the Supreme’s of course. Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) has unlimited abilities, but that’s way too easy. Of all the other witches on AHS Coven, these are the best powers that we’ve seen so far.
Michele K. Short/FX
Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga) can have sex with people...to death. The jury’s still out on whether that’s good, bad, or just depressing.
Bringing animals (and possibly humans) back to life seemed peaceful enough until Misty Day (Lily Rabe) revived an alligator that turned around and mauled the people who killed it. Spoiler alert: that’s how Swamp People ends.
Pro: clairvoyance could totally be used for gossip, furthering your career, or winning the lottery. Con: it might drive you a little crazy.
Human Voodoo Doll
Quit hitting yourself! Quit hitting yourself! Although Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) can’t actually control other people’s limbs, if she stabs herself in the hand or dips her arm in boiling oil, it’s going to leave a mark on her victim. (So don’t get on her bad side.)
As Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) proved in the premiere episode, telekinesis can be deadly depending on who is wielding the power. Or it could be used to make every child’s Matilda dreams come true. C’mon you know you had them, if only because it made cooking look like so much more fun than it is.
Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
The age-old debate over fate vs. free will has been and always will be a tough theme to crack in any medium but with the benefits of modern filmmaking technology the theory can be explored in ways that Philip K. Dick never imagined. However when one relies too heavily on spectacle to tell a story a piece of cerebral science fiction can quickly become just another action extravaganza. In this day and age there’s a fine line between the two; The Matrix walked that tightrope with style and grace while Next never found its footing in the first place. Fortunately the precious work of novelist Dick has for the most part been treated with respect by Hollywood (the aforementioned Nic Cage dud notwithstanding) but that doesn’t necessarily mean movies based on his stories are completely faithful to his vision.
Case in point: George Nolfi’s directorial debut The Adjustment Bureau an adaptation of Dick’s short story “Adjustment Team.” The film stars Matt Damon as David Norris a successful businessman and rising political candidate who after a chance encounter with the girl of his dreams (Emily Blunt) loses a crucial election. He happens to run into her on a Manhattan bus the following week before finding his office swarming with masked men who are “adjusting” everyone inside. Richardson (John Slattery) the man in charge captures Norris who unsuccessfully flees the scene after seeing behind “a curtain he wasn’t even supposed to know existed” as the enigmatic figure puts it. From that point on Norris must live with the knowledge that he (and we for that matter) is not in control of his own life. Rather the choices he makes fit perfectly into “The Plan” that’s been written by “the Chairman”.
In relation to my earlier statement I have to say that Nolfi’s picture looks stunning but his natural urban aesthetic doesn’t overpower the story. Sleek contemporary production design and elegant costumes characterize the high-concept story and the wraithlike agents who shape our destinies. Topically we’re dealing with some heavy material but Nolfi and editor Jay Rabinowitz move the action along at a brisk pace that keeps you engaged and entertained without having to try. The film is properly proportioned as a chase thriller romantic adventure and sci-fi fantasy and thankfully no component overshadows another.
Setting the film in the world of politics and big business helps make its larger-than-life revelations a bit more accessible (as do appearances from Michael Bloomberg Jon Stewart and Chuck Scarborough) while providing sub-text about the corruption involved in elections and campaigns (there are conspicuous shades of The Manchurian Candidate in the movie) but the writer-director often tries too hard for broad appeal. For a film with existential implications as severe as they are here the dialogue is at times hokey and superficial. Dick’s source material is far more abstract and Nolfi for the sake of commercial success panders to the palette of soccer moms and mallrats.
What’s worse is his unwarranted exposition of the Bureau a shadowy organization whose major allure is anonymity. Some secrets are best kept and less can be so much more when crafting a mysterious atmosphere; Nolfi reaches that level of magnetic curiosity but squanders it as he reveals the truth about the Bureau and its grand scheme. On the other hand he brushes over the technical lingo between agents Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie) McCrady (Anthony Ruivivar) and others without explanation perhaps hoping that the ambiguous terminology will fool you into thinking that his script is smarter than it really is.
Even though Nolfi’s allegorical conclusions are uncomfortably ham-fisted the chemistry between Damon and Blunt alone is enough to enchant you; this is one highly watchable cinematic pairing that should be revisited as soon as possible. Their innocent relationship blossoms organically and together they make it seem as natural on screen as it is for their star-crossed characters. Even if you have a hard time believing in higher powers or manipulative Orwellian forces you’ll have faith in David and Elise’s fated relationship one of the most captivating couplings I’ve seen on the big-screen in some time.