(Review originally written at 23 June 2006)

The movie starts of promising; slow, realistic, mysterious and tense. A real Cronenberg gem. The movie mostly remains this good for at least half of its running time. After that the movie takes a not so positive turn and the movie goes from realistic to unrealistic, rapidly.

I appreciate the straight-forwardness of the movie. The movie doesn't hold back with its violence, which is really brutal and graphic to watch. The straight-forwardness of the violence and the movie in general is probably the only reason remaining why this movie is better than the average thriller. The fact that the movie doesn't hold back and the characters in the movie, all make the movie very realistic to watch.

From the moment on the Ed Harris character arrives the movie becomes both tense and mysterious. These are the best moments of the movie. The movie does have some great moments and twists in it, which I'm not going to spoil. However about halve way through the movie the story takes a not so positive turn. Suddenly all tension and mystery is gone and the movie turns into some average action flick, that above all is highly unrealistic and unlikely as well. Especially from the moment on when William Hurt's character gets introduced in the movie. The movie is filled with more flaws and improbabilities story-wise, such as the moments with the school bully, which I found to be utterly ridicules and not completely necessary. I understood the purpose of him for the story and for the forming of the Jack Stall character but still I have the feeling that the movie would had been better of without him. It are all obvious indications that this movie is too mainstream for David Cronenberg's style. Yes, there are moments of greatness both overall it's a fairly disappointing effort by Cronenberg, especially after hearing all the praise which the movie received. The hype-machine apparently did over-time for this movie. It's original, refreshing and it doesn't hold back but it however also has way too many flaws and improbabilities especially toward the ending, to regard this movie as one of the best of 2005. I can't imaging that a person who is familiar with Cronenberg's most other work won't be slightly disappointed by this effort of him. But yes surely, I would have said just as much negative about this movie if it was directed by a different person than Cronenberg. After all it's not the disappointment of seeing this movie being directed by a director who has made so much better and more realistic, straight-forward movies than this that makes the movie flawed but it's the story that mostly makes this movie a flawed one.

But yes, of course the movie still has more positive thing as negatives things in it. The movie will probably still surprise and delight people. There really are moments which makes this movie tense and mysterious to watch, so as a thriller it surely serves its purpose. It still is a very powerful movie to watch, for most of its running time.

The cast is good and the actors are cast to fit their characters as good as possible. Viggo Mortensen is good as a 'normal', recognizable every day person, who gets into some difficulties that seems bigger than him. Really great is Ed Harris in his role. He's mysterious and tough, the perfect combination of his character that is one of the most memorable performances by him of the last couple of years. On the other hand, William Hurt feels terribly out of place in his role. I can't believe that he actually received an Oscar nomination for his role in this movie.

There are plenty enough reasons why you should watch this movie but I still feel that I need to warn, to not believe all the hype, which still surrounds the movie.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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