Free Fall

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“It’s like Die Hard! Except, in a skyscraper!” Wait, what?

free fallI’ve no problem with Die Hard clones, because the original is a brilliant concept, beautifully executed: it’s one of my all-time top movies, of any genre. This certainly isn’t the first effort to try and port this into the action heroine genre, but it may well be the worst. And that’s quite some effort, considering previous attempts include one starring Anna Nicole Smith. It’s less star Butler’s fault, than a script which staggers from cliché to idiocy, and sloppily amateur execution, apparent in captions that spell “allegations” with one L and refer to something called the “Securities Exchange Commission.” Jane Porter (Butler) is an up and coming executive with Gault Capital, whose world is shattered when her manager apparently jumps to his death from the top of their building. I say, “apparently,” because it’s entirely unsurprising when Jane finds a USB stick and, in blatant violation of every security protocol, slaps it into the side of her work PC [the company I work for, just had a training course on precisely why this is a Very Bad Idea]. Ooh, look: her manager had found evidence of financial irregularity! Who can Jane turn to? And why not wait until she’s the only person in the building?

Which I could have forgiven had this been the springboard to some Die Hard-esque action, and the film certainly foreshadows this, with the first time we see Jane, she’s pounding away on a punch-bag. Except the script then has her spend the meat of the movie’s running-time stuck in an elevator, while the hitman (Sweeney) sent to to “tidy up” the mess, tries to figure out how to get at her. If there’s one thing duller than being stuck in an elevator, it’s watching someone else be stuck in an elevator. I’m surprised I have to state this, but the makers of this are apparently under the impression that it’s actually the height of tension. Boy, are they mistaken there. The potential inherent in the office location and a battle of wits between a smart heroine and a lethal adversary is instead frittered away in scenes spent, for example, watching the latter looking for a key to open the elevator door. I kid you not, and stand corrected: there seem to be a number of things duller than being stuck in an elevator, and this film is intent on showing them all to me.

Even the makers seem to realize this was a misstep suddenly generating another character out of thin air, an elevator repair man, about whom we are given no reason to care beyond a painfully obvious scene establishing his family. He then gets to fight the bad guy for a bit, while the supposed heroine stands around inside the elevator. While she does eventually get to go toe-to-toe with him – and isn’t a bad little battle – it’s far too late, and comes well after the point where doctors would have given up on this patient and turned its body over to the family. Both the title and tagline are good summaries of viewer interest.

Dir: Malek Akkad
Star: Sarah Butler, D.B. Sweeney, Ian Gomez, Malcolm McDowell

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