by Hope Madden
I am having a hard time figuring out Mary.
Some of my befuddlement has to do with Gary Oldman’s involvement.
Is it just me, or is there a part of everyone’s brain that says, “Wait, Gary Oldman’s in this? I will definitely watch it!”
Gary Oldman is a tremendous talent. You know what he’s not? Choosy.
Here Oldman plays David, an aging boat captain carting tourists around for a fishing company. He has big dreams, though—dreams of owning his own craft. So naturally, when a ghost ship washes ashore, he cashes in everything he owns to buy her at police action. Then he promptly loads his squabbling family and a couple of deckhands aboard and sails toward the Bermuda triangle.
Of course he does!
What exactly happens once he sets sail is a mystery David’s wife (Emily Mortimer) explains throughout the film’s running time from an interrogation room.
The police interrogation framework is very tired at this point. It’s lazy. As are dream sequences and voiceover narration. They’re cinematic crutches, ways of telling the audience what should be coming organically from the narrative.
Director Michael Goi (Megan Is Missing) relies on these devices to explain what the action should detail, just as he falls back on ominous music to create dread or signal character development. I’m not sure this script gave him loads of options, though.
Writer Anthony Jaswinski (The Shallows) sketches characters, action and a ghost story, but clarifies very little. His script is an unfocused mess and Goi’s pacing does not help. We skip CliffsNotes style through the family’s crisis, none of it feeling authentic, before discovering the hidden facts about Mary (the ship and, presumably, the ghost) sitting in a box in the hallway.
What’s this, ship ledgers and newspaper clippings? How convenient!
At 84 minutes (including credits), Mary feels simultaneously rushed and bloated. It’s a remarkable waste of both Mortimer and Oldman’s talent and the only true mystery—left unsolved, by the way—is how it drew these actors in the first place.