R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Simon Brand
scr Matthew Waynee
with Jim Caviezel, Barry Pepper, Greg Kinnear, Joe Pantoliano, Jeremy Sisto, Bridget Moynahan, Peter Stormare, Clayne Crawford, Chris Mulkey, Kevin Chapman, Mark Boone Junior, Wilmer Calderon
release US 1.Nov.06, UK 13.Apr.07
06/US Weinstein 1h21

Who am I? Caviezel

pepper kinnear pantoliano

Unknown Gimmicky but effective, this claustrophobic thriller has such an intriguing premise that it keeps us entertained even as it gets increasingly contrived.

Five men wake up in a warehouse with no idea who they are. They're locked inside, and the evidence suggests that two of them are victims of a kidnapping, while the other three are vicious thugs. But who's who? One guy (Caviezel) kind of takes control with his sheer charisma, while another (Kinnear) decides to convince everyone that he's one of the hostages. Meanwhile outside, a woman (Moynahan) is paying a ransom and working with cops (Crawford and Mulkey) to follow the guy (Stormare) who collected the cash.

The action outside the warehouse feels a bit tacked on, merely to pad out the movie to 90 minutes (they don't quite make it), although it's actually a key to the twisty plot. It's the inside drama that's grabs our interest as we work alongside these men to figure out who the good and bad guys are. Flashes of memory along the way illuminate bits of the narrative (the whole amnesia thing is explained away by a random escaped chemical).

The cast dive into their roles with energy and emotion--Caviezel is especially strong in the take-control role, while Pepper and Kinnear also rise to the surface with strong personalities. Pantoliano has a more thankless role, while Sisto is badly sidelined. But even he's more fascinating than the people running around outside. Fortunately, the story does come together in the end, and even though it's harshly under-explained, the sharp twists in the tale are quite disarming.

Where the film becomes truly attention-grabbing is in the way it subtly examines human nature in the small differences between heroes and villains. These are men who are given a clean slate for a few hours. Whether they're a victim or a thug is irrelevant; it's how they respond in this situation, and it focuses on their raw internal motives. Director Brand films and edits with an edgy, involving style that's only flawed by choppy editing and a few unnecessarily sappy moments. Otherwise, it's an absorbing little thriller.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 24.Jan.07

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2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall