Lengthy earlier than it face-plants fully, about midway by, Phillip Noyce’s The Determined Hour is already kneecapped with cliches. From the primary photographs of Naomi Watts, our queen of Grief Bomb Mothers, mendacity in mattress alone, eyeballing the widowing hubby within the nightstand photograph, there isn’t a story or visible concept within the movie that doesn’t include a recycling triangle stamped on its rump.
Ah, effectively—griping about cliches is its personal cliche. With teary pluck, Watts’s Ms. Distress sends her grade-schooler to highschool, prods her mopey highschool son to stand up, and goes for a restorative jog within the apparently monumental close by forest. Up to now, so mediocre—besides that’s the entire movie.
A dogged one-hander, through which Watts will get herself stranded within the pretty Ontario woods with an iPhone whereas a faculty shooter incident locks down her son’s highschool, Noyce’s film does muster a helpless nervousness—for some time. Usually in red-eyed close-up, Watts is a template of panic, speaking to a half dozen totally different mates and acquaintances in a frantic effort to search out out the place her son is (he roused and left, we hear), and to get to the college ASAP. However the issue with the movie’s odd low-budget subgenre (assume Locke, The Responsible, and many others.) is that the legislation of diminishing returns all the time kicks in fairly rapidly—there’s solely this one harried girl to observe, and every little thing else is radio. And in contrast to in these different motion pictures, the off-screen voices right here don’t create dramatic hassle however merely provide microdoses of data. It’s all on Watts’s sweaty shoulders. And naturally, she twists her ankle and hits her head on a rock within the course of.
It definitely doesn’t promote you on the advantages of going for a great run. All the identical, her character’s juggling of a number of apps and simultaneous cellphone calls whereas limping and panting in the midst of nowhere will be spectacular—it’s like a high-stress how-to video on all of the issues you are able to do along with your cellphone on the similar time. Go, branded content material!
However complete motion pictures about somebody speaking and texting on a cellphone? Cease the planet, I’m deboarding. For his half, Noyce, in his 70s, has a light-weight work week, leaving what looks as if a full 50% of the visible selections as much as whoever was accountable for the drone digicam hovering over the treetops. However then catastrophe strikes, and in a single second, Chris Sparling’s spec script begins consuming itself, turning the movie from a one-note examine in maternal terror right into a laughable train in privileged mega-Mother activism. Or one thing—I can say with out spoiling your disappointment that what fuel Watts was capable of pump into the sparse state of affairs dissipates in a wisp, and the contrivances pile up like robotexts.
The one takeaway from Noyce’s movie is that faculty shootings at the moment are so frequent, so banal, that they will shruggingly function a style film McGuffin, with out the filmmakers ever veering near the nagging query of what the hell is unsuitable with us. (Scroll down the Wikipedia listing and watch the variety of incidents and victims speed up with every passing decade.) Going macro is asking loads, after all, when the film itself barely will get out of the woods.