Quick Reviews: 'No Exit', 'Moonfall' | Slick Thriller, Halle Berry & Patrick Wilson Fight The Moon
Oh, would you look at that. There's no phone signal here so I guess it's just time to play a few card games and talk about No Exit, a tight 90-minute thriller from director Damien Power, written by Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari who are adapting a book of the same name. We follow Darby (Havana Rose Liu), a recovering drug addict who escapes her rehab centre in order to go to Salt Lake City, where her mother has been hospitalised. On the way there, a blizzard makes the mountain roads dangerous for driving so Darby ends up stuck at a rest stop with a married couple in army veteran Ed (Dennis Haysbert) and ex-nurse Sandi (Dale Dickey), as well as two young men Ash (Danny Ramirez) and Lars (David Rysdahl). Whilst there, Darby finds a young girl kidnapped in a parked van with no idea who's the kidnapper.
Word to describe the film indeed is tight as Power and company do a solid job nearly everywhere to make the most out of this nearly single location premise to create enough tense moments and movement in that space. Rich Delia and Power's casting especially deserves a shoutout in that sense because a great combination of unpredictable new faces such as Liu in the lead role and dependable character actors like Dickey offer the viewers a chance to keep guessing and investigating with Darby. It keeps the cat-and-mouse game enjoyable for most of the runtime, only dipping a little about 40 minutes in where talkative beats move in a different speed and volume than the setup and violent finale. Some of the action is appropriately underlined by more experienced composer duo Marco Beltrami and Miles Hankins as the story of this abduction and hold-up wraps up—maybe not so originally—but neatly either way.
Frowneys: Minor pacing issues
Now, if you were to give anyone older than a toddler a chance to write and direct a movie called Moonfall, chances are they are going to make something stupid and fun while other creatives involved will make the sci-fi adventure in it at least somewhat exciting to watch. This is why it is truly bizarre that director-writer Roland Emmerich, along with co-writer and co-composer Harald Kloser and co-writer Spenser Cohen, managed to dilute a film with such simple premise as a moon falling and causing destruction to a point that nothing matters. Among its many plot threads, ragtag team consisting of disgraced astronaut Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson), NASA higher-up Jocinda Flower (Halle Berry) and conspiracy theorist KC Houseman (John Bradley) have to go ''fight'' the moon after it leaves its orbit, causing particles to hit the Earth and mess up the gravitational pull.
Even trying to analyse the craft on display or world-building would feel like too much effort in this instance because Moonfall's biggest sin might be that it exists for all the wrong reasons, turning into noise to fill a movie theatre or room. The script is totally inadequate as things are just banging against each other in order to create a story about secrets of the moon, dialogue feels like it's spoken by robots and the last hour is just one big ol' exposition dump after another. All of that is sloppily cut together in text-to-speech style by editors Ryan Stevens Harris and Adam Wolfe while the B-plot on Earth merely exists as an ad for different companies, it seems; showcased by an ugly car chase scene and multiple scenes where actors are told to stare at a blue screen and simply move to another soundstage.
Pointing out bad acting feels almost pointless because lack of direction is obvious but a supporting turn by Charlie Plummer (Sonny, Brian's troubled son) goes even beyond bad direction, resembling a black hole that has taken away all emotion and humanity. Maybe the true disaster was this film's concept all along.
Smileys: Poor VFX artists tried something
Frowneys: Screenplay, directing, story, Charlie Plummer, dialogue