This is the first big film directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and it still remains one of his best pieces to date. It’s a well written story that draws you into the characters through a three arch structure, as fragmented narratives interweave and characters cross paths to build a bigger picture. It shows how people are connected in the smallest of ways, without being as pretentious as other Iñárritu films such as Babel. It’s a gritty look into love, relationships, regret and redemption, with characters you can easily connect with, played brilliantly by the ensemble cast. An outstanding directional debut.
Now that we’ve grown up this film is a nightmare! A number of thoughts plagued me upon rewatching this film:
- Kevin is one sadistic little bastard.
- A happy ending after the shit Kevin pulled? Piss off!
- The robbers are like members of the fucking Justice League. How much pain can they withstand?
- This whole situation could have been avoided if the McCallister family stopped pissing about. They’ve got seven kids and can’t even control one of them.
- Child protective services know about this family right?
- How the hell is a film about a home invasion festive?
It’s just a mess.
I could have liked this film, but there are too many things about it that piss me off. I have no problem with Will Smith’s central performance because he has appeared in far worse films, but it’s just kind of everything else that sinks the film.
Flimsy plot that isn’t fully developed? Check.
Half baked tragic back story involving family? Check.
Animal sidekick with predictable downfall? Check.
Evil creatures with unexplained abilities? Check.
Fucking ridiculous conclusion to the story? Check.
Unnecessary parallel to Bob Marley that doesn’t actually work? Check.
Pissed off Adam by the end of the film? Check.
I was concerned that this film was going to be the typical Oscar-bait piece that critics would love and the public would find boring, but I was pleasantly surprised. I’d be lying if I said I loved it, however it ticked enough boxes to keep me happy. I admire Ang Lee because he took a rather complex novel that was deemed unfilmable by many and managed to make a genuinely impressive film. On a technical level alone this film is outstanding, and thankfully it has enough character to pull it forwards and doesn’t rely on visuals for entertainment value.