Opening 15 Oct 2015
Writing credits: Max Landis
Principal actors: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Connie Britton, Topher Grace, Walton Goggins
Not much happens in small towns in West Virginia: you work to live, get stoned, and hang out with your main squeeze (Kristen Stewart). Mike’s (Jesse Eisenberg) one diversion is his graphic novel. Concurrently, a test of wills in CIA management leaves his handler (Connie Britton) hanging and a skewered agent (Topher Grace), intent on erasing past losses, takes over. Meanwhile, Mike needs props and turns to his supplier (John Leguizamo). An odd customer intervenes before Mike has a chance to see Phoebe. In the blink-of-an-eye, Mike’s life is inside out. Situations radically escalate: Laughter (Walton Goggins) is unleashed, and ultimately the handler of all handlers (Bill Pullman) has to sort everything out. Quite economically.
Essentially, Max Landis’ screenplay, even with some zingy one-liners, is old hat, as is the fast-pace of Nima Nourizadeh’s direction. So, why bother? Worth seeing are Richard Bridgland’s stylized production design propped by Jon Danniells’ set decoration, and art directors Michael Barton and Christina Eunji Kim’s artful collaboration. Eisenberg and Stewart spark off one another, with good comic nuances from the rest of the cast. Funky and fun, the film trashes stereotypes – could wind up a “cult” flick. Undoubtedly it will appeal to younger audiences, and for anyone in the right mood. Also, there is a wacky graphic novel end-off under end credits. (Marinell Haegelin)