by Hope Madden
It’s a setup you’ll recognize. A man, doing man’s work, brightens when his wife arrives. Oh, they are really in love. Let’s just do this one thing before the romance, OK honey?
Minutes from now, she will be dead, he will be damaged, and eventually his suicidal melancholy will fuel revenge.
From Death Wish to John Wick to Death Wish (again), it’s a premise that never goes out of style and never, ever surprises.
Credit writer/director Leigh Whannell and star Logan Marshall-Green (The Invitation) for keeping you entertained for 90 minutes.
Marshall-Green plays Grey. While all the rest of the world relies on technology to drive them around, buy their eggs and dim their lights, Grey’s in the garage listening to blues on vinyl and rebuilding a Trans-Am.
After the aforementioned tragedy, Grey reluctantly turns to a Cyber Victor Frankenstein type (Harrison Gilbertson, a little over-the-top), who implants a chip to help repair the physical damage.
What happens from there is like Knight Rider meets David Cronenberg.
Whannell freshens up the technophobe dystopian narrative with a few fresh ideas, a silly streak and serious violence.
This is the guy who wrote Saw, after all. Those who are surprised by the inspired bloodshed probably haven’t seen his canon.
Marshall-Green shines when he’s not morose and lovelorn, but rather tentatively administering “justice.” His physical performance and the action sequences are enough to keep you interested; the strangely comical tone rewards you for your time.
Aside from Betty Gabriel (always a joy to see her), the performances around Marshall-Green are serviceable: the devoted mom, the icy mercenaries, the boundlessly loving wife. Luckily, this is Marshall-Green’s show. Though he struggles (as does Whannell) with the emotional bits, he’s more than at home with the goofy and the violent.
Long live the flesh!