A political thriller takes us inside the world of the anti-capitalist movement, with mixed results says Tim Robey.|
by Tim Robey, published on June 27, 2013 - 12:01 PM BST
Coolly beautiful as well as an intriguing, slightly withholding actress, Brit Marling remains a name to watch. She wrote and starred in the frustrating sci-fi drama Another Earth and the interesting cult-infiltration thriller Sound of My Voice, whose director, Zal Batmanglij, calls the shots once again here. They have a great idea. Unethical corporations face attack from anarchist groups: one, known as The East, slip dangerous drugs into the champagne glasses of the very executives whove put them on the market, or simulate an oil spillage in the ventilation system of a CEOs McMansion.
Marling plays Jane Owen, hired by a private security firm to go undercover as Sarah and find the perpetrators. They are an innocuous-seeming collective of hairy, huggy freegans, living off trash in Pittsburgh, and supposedly squatting in a vacant, ramshackle home though it may actually belong to Benji (Alexander Skarsgård), the groups mysterious Nordic Adonis of a leader. Janes boss, played with frosty verve by Patricia Clarkson, picked her for a reason she slots right in. Almost too much so. Just like Keanu Reeves consorting with the surfer-criminals in Point Break, she gets personally involved with the subjects of her investigation, unsure whether to beat them or join them.
When the movies thriving on uncertainty, pinning Jane between two camps with equally sinister potential, it has a prickly ingenuity and promise. Its gripping, for at least an hour. When it fails, its mainly because Marlings character feels too naive, unaware of the damaging secrets companies might lie about, the retaliatory moves her new friends are willing to make, and the fact that Clarkson couldnt care less about the victims of these attacks when theyre not paying her to care. The script needed to be cannier, perhaps more cynical, on all of these counts. Come the final act, the best political thrillers don't play nice, after all they twist the knife. This ones so concerned with making the world a better place, it retracts the blade and wipes it clean.
Rating: 3 out of 5