Film Review: Adrien Brody Gets ‘Wrecked’

Posted on March 16, 2011 by Deaditor 4 Comments

Film Review: Wrecked
: IFC Films
Theatrical Release Date: April 1, 2011
Directed by: Michael Greenspan
Starring: Adrien Brody, Caroline Dhavernas, Ryan Robbins
Review by Marc Patterson

Imagine you wake up trapped inside a crashed car deep into the woods somewhere. No one is within the sound of your voice or the car horn. You don’t remember who you are, or how you got there. There’s a dead man in the back seat. The driver of the car has been thrown through the windshield and his (or her) body lies almost out of eyesight in front of you. Your leg is broken and can’t get out of the vehicle. You are able to find a flashlight, a matchbook with two matches, and a gun with only a few rounds remaining. This is the situation our lead actor Adrien Brody finds himself in, and it proves a wonderful set-up for the following eighty-five minutes.

Normally in a review I might spend more time talking the plot, illustrating the near entirety of the first act, but in the case of Wrecked the enjoyment of watching the film is derived from everything you don’t know, and everything you learn between the opening sequence and the final credits. That said, there is plenty I can talk about.

The first twenty minutes of Wrecked were perhaps the most brilliant. Rarely am I able to share the claustrophobic and frantic emotions of a character so quickly, though it’s certainly far less claustrophobic than Buried, which practically required a paper bag for ventilation purposes. By placing us into the vehicle with Brody, not allowing us any flash-backs, or clues to his past the director (Greenspan), is able to cement our point-of-view firmly inside Brody’s head and at times it’s a disorienting and hopeless place. Because we have no knowledge of who Brody is, we must agonize along with him as he both struggles to piece together what happened, and find a way to survive the wilderness.

Intermingled with Brody’s all but hopeless situation are constant flashes to a woman, a product of his hallucinating mind, who is at first there to help him, but with time appears to have increasingly sinister intentions. These hallucinations both help and hinder the narrative of the film, thankfully overcome by Brody’s superb performance.

Wrecked is the kind of film every actor could dream of, an entire feature where the camera lingers on your every facial expression, in close-up detail. For horror fans, Wrecked is a rare treat in that we get to spend a solid ninety minutes with an A-list actor, something doubly satisfying as Brody has certainly spent a big chunk of time in the horror genre lately. Giallo, Splice, and Predators all being three genre films just since 2009.

Wrecked is by no means an act of cinematic perfection, though. It’s a slow paced film by intention, (and would not work any other way), but dragged along excessively in too many places, really testing my patience at times. I was put off by the inclusion of a dream sequence that seemed out of place, serving only to uselessly kill five minutes of run time by misdirecting the audience for what seemed to be nothing more than the mere sake of misdirection. That same five minutes could have been used to advance the story. I don’t appreciate being used as the butt of a joke by a director who sat to the side going “Gotcha!”. Granted, this sequence began to prove its use as we moved through later chapters, but I’d stand by my criticism of its execution. It came too soon and came on too strongly.

There were also several spots where easier, more logical solutions to Brody’s predicament seemed to be laid out directly in front of him, but much to my frustration he chose not to take them. This wouldn’t be so hard to accept if we sat and watched the film as an objective third party, but it was clear that we were to sit in the car, trapped with Brody, planted firmly in his perspective. When my better instincts were diametrically opposed to the actions taken on screen, the film started to fall apart and lose me.

That said, I was never pulled fully out of the film, and the constant nagging suspense of what was going to happen next combined with Brody’s unrelenting resolve to survive the unsurvivable was able to successfully keep me engaged in the film creating a tense and disorienting environment, even if at times I leaned back and openly mocked the screen.

Wrecked enjoys a place amongst more modern survival horror tales, such as Adam Green’s Frozen, or the previously mentioned Buried, though sadly hasn’t gotten the critical attention to date that those films earned early on, which is a shame as Adrien Brody is a household name actor with a fairly solid string of releases behind him. If a gut-wrenching murder mystery playing out in a desolate wilderness sounds at all appealing then you’ll want to make a point to seek this one out.

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  • Jude says:

    Am toying with the idea of watching this on demand. Am not sure I want to pay $10 for it though. It does look like the sort of movie I will enjoy though. Enjoyed your review Marc.

  • Marc says:

    Having known you for something like five+ years now, and reading your reviews I feel like we have pretty close taste in film Jude. I think you’d like this one. It was frustrating to watch at times, but there was a lot going on, and a lot I CAN’T talk about in this review, because it just wouldn’t be fair. I didn’t even want to post a trailer. Really – the less you know going into this makes it all the better.

  • Jude says:

    I think I may just hold back and buy it I think Marc. Thanks for not revealing any spoilers, not that you ever do!

  • Sam says:

    Just stumbled across this site while looking for a review of this film. Nice review thanks. “1-man survival” films are dear to my heart as I’ve been trying to get my feature off the ground for years, which is a sort of Deliverance style film, done in New Zealand, about 3 guys who go bush and who share a complicated past… but it mainly boils down to just one guy surviving the elements. So I’m looking forward to seeing how this film deals with that “1 man survival situation”.

    Having said that I feel like the trailer, which I watched before coming here, pretty much told me EVERYTHING.

    But it’s all in the execution right? However, I’m very nervous about the paragraph where you described the character generally overlooking obvious solutions. This is always the problem with survival films. The original DIE HARD is one of those rare films where the protagonist does all the shit you would do, like looking for new shoes on each guy he takes out because he really needs some shoes.

    Still, I’m just glad people are continuing to make films in this niche.

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