If your 84-minute movie about family trauma turns out to be a school shooting thriller, but it’s also about the mother of the family having the worst run of her life and life. That run included dozens of phone calls and are from 9-1-1, it doesn’t need a director. It takes a life coach and a personal trainer. Meanwhile, the audience needs a hostage negotiator. That mother? She also basically became one. And since Naomi Watts plays her, it seems fair to assume that Amy’s inability to achieve more than this single note. But not.
It doesn’t take long to explain what’s going on here. A recently widowed mother of two named Amy (Watts) leaves her weary teenage son in bed while she does his morning exercise in the nearby woods of a common town. mid-Atlantic. While she was out, Amy discovered that someone with a powerful weapon had infiltrated her son’s school and opened fire. Is he a victim? Is he the shooter?
For answers, Amy ran to the dangerous spot on her ankle where she twisted, calling frantically all the way: to a mechanic not far from the siege, to a friend with a child at school, to a (several) black police dispatcher named Dedra, who, in the midst of all the chaos, took the time to comfort Amy with lines like, “You did what anyone What other mother would do.”
The only thing I want less than a shooting range thriller is a horror movie where the other protagonist is the protagonist’s iPhone. Watts suffers from dropped calls and dead batteries, from fraudulent carpool times and unknown callers, from calls going straight to voicemail. She had to find a way to play someone who had been caught and made half a dozen calls halfway through before having any crisis, someone we don’t mind saying things like, “Siri: Directions to Lakewood Community Center. Fastest route” or “You take someone else’s child out. Why can’t you take mine out? ”
Few screen actors are better than Watts except for the pain of his parents. The physical beating she received in “The Impossible” feels proportional to her showing a mother’s determination to unite her family. The film turned the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami into an action-melodrama, but Watts’ mastery of physical suffering transcends the film’s racism. Her privileged mother has convincingly defended maternity rights.
The “hour of despair” becomes an impossibility by itself. There’s no way Watts makes this person the most exasperating character I’ve come across in a work of fiction in a long time. Until Amy, I really couldn’t appreciate the difference between bravery and fortitude. She put that mechanic in some work that was probably illegal. And when she made me limp at the sight of two phones, it was my turn to call the police. Amy, hurry up. It’s the Lyft driver’s phone!
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Watts is working with director Phillip Noyce, a veteran of stellar intimate suspense films (“Dead Calm”) and expensive Hollywood pop (“Patriot Games,” “Sliver”). Nothing works for them here. The camera shakes a lot, but it can’t find a single shaky image. The boop-boop and tings of a smartphone may be the sound of modern communication, but boy, are they a major manual downgrade for a filmmaker who can make these shivers from the creaking of wood on a boat.
The source of all of the film’s troubles is Chris Sparling’s script, which forces everyone but Amy to participate in off-screen voiceovers and FaceTimes, in order to heighten her tension and isolation. . But these are gimmicks that lead to a terrifying horror, equivalent to the crisis of endangered children with a dying phone battery nightmare.
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