Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorcese’s latest collaboration fails to measure up to The Departed, for it simply peters out after establishing a very promising premise. The movie was adapted from the best seller of the same name by Dennis Lehane, a psychological thriller set in 1954 off the coast of Massachusetts at Ashecliffe Mental Hospital for the Criminally-Insane.
As the film unfolds, we’re introduced to Federal Marshals Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) as they head by ferry to the high-security facility to help handle a crisis situation. This deliberately-paced opening tableau is rather evocative of the Gothic horror genre, atmospherically, as the boat slowly breaks through a thick mist to reveal the eerie specter of an imposing edifice sitting high atop the tiny isle, ala the fog-shrouded mansion or castle of so many classic haunted house flicks.
The lawmen are met at the dock by Deputy Warden McPherson (John Carroll Lynch) who insists that they surrender their weapons before being allowed onto the grounds, whose high walls and electrified fence make the place look more like a prison than a hospital. The tension is then ratcheted up a notch when they learn they’ve been summoned there because a patient (Emily Mortimer) somehow escaped from her locked cell the night before, and she could be hiding anywhere on the island. The deranged woman is considered extremely dangerous, since she was committed for a triple murder.
In the wake of the briefing, a hurricane hits the island which quite conveniently not only knocks out all the electricity but prevents any further ferry service to the now totally-isolated institution. Of course, this only serves to make increasingly-uncomfortable Teddy and Chuck’s frantic search for the murderess even more urgent.
I’m guessing that this scintillating setup probably reads like an appealing edge-of-the-seat thriller. Not so fast, Kimosabe, for I dare not divulge any of the ensuing, unpredictable developments which turn a compelling whodunit into a surreal and patently preposterous mindbender. Suffice to say that in the end this critic felt cheated to have the complicated mystery resolved by a rabbit-out-of-the-hat revelation that had little to do with the misleading series of red herrings that I’d invest over two hours in.
The cinematic equivalent of a bait and switch scam.
Fair (1.5 stars)
Rated R for profanity, nudity and disturbing violence.
Running time: 137 Minutes
Distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: None.
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