This is the fifth collaboration between director Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel. Segel’s bread and butter is TV’s “How I Met Your Mother” but he’s also a writer and as most writer/actors go – he writes a lot of things for himself. This is Emily Blunt’s third film with Segel and they have a fun familiarity with each other. Segel roams into weird comic places and Blunt follows right along. Chris Pratt from TV’s “Parks and Recreation” comes along to play the dumb-but-lovable best friend. Alison Brie joins the party, also a TV alum, she’s on both “The Community” and “Mad Men.” The whole thing feels really comfortable. So comfortable, the running time is more than two hours, which is extreme for a comedy. But the lags are few and far between and the scenes of downtime heighten the hilarious ones. The whole cast pitches in to make for an odd affair that’s funny, memorable, and engaging – worth a watch.
OK, first off, when is the last time you’ve seen an ATM in a glass building, in the middle of an isolated parking lot? Second, if you did enter this weird universe where this ATM death-trap existed, why would you park 50-feet away from the door? That’s the setup for this flimsy thriller. You find yourself yelling at the two-dimensional characters on the screen for being so stupid. Then you relax, readjust and try to push forward – only to realize that the acting is worse than the lines they’re trying to deliver which makes the unbelievable setups even worse than that. But wait - it gets deeper. We have to depend on these three rebactors (that’s short for really bad actors) to get us to the credits. They’re trapped in this glass booth of terror by a menacing figure in a parka…yes, the terrifying parka bit. Deposit “ATM” in the “Another Terrible Movie” category and don’t bother making this withdrawal – pass.
There’s this guy from France named Xavier Gens. In 2007, he had a big year for an up-and-coming director with two moderately successful films that received cult receptions in two countries – “Frontier(s)” in France and “Hitman” in America. So what’s he do for an encore? He makes a movie where Michael Biehn and Rosanna Arquette are the two biggest names. But it’s not the actors he’s able to pull in - it’s what he does with them. On the surface, this is a film about a nuclear holocaust in an unnamed city. But underneath, it’s about the breakdown of humanity when faced with a bleak future and a fight for survival. It’s about mankind’s hunger for dominance and power. It’s about civility and the loss of human rights in times of terror. It’s about a handful of very different people locked in a basement. Gens spares the audience nothing. His scenes devolve into gritty acts of violence and impertinence. The acting fails to capture the gravity at times but don’t be divided, this film does a lot with very little – worth a watch, if you can stomach it.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge