Written and Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
I know. Trust me, I fucking know. You've been fooled too many times to fall for another enticing M. Night Shyamalan trailer, only to be beyond disappointed when you shell out the cash to see the flick, you leave so angry you vow you will never, ever, ever do it again. I was just like you. I made that same vow, and have tried to stick to it... but I had to do it again when I saw the trailer for Split. Why? It was either because I'm a hopeless romantic or a giant idiot. Either way, I was happy that I did it. M. Night Shyamalan may still be in movie jail, but Split will definitely be a good mark on his record when his next parole hearing comes up.
Let's start with the obvious, James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy were both brilliant in the leads. McAvoy had to play 20-something personalities-- although only about 4 or 5 for most of the film (yeah, Dan, "ONLY")-- while Taylor-Joy had to be the strong empathetic character we desperately needed to follow to stay invested in this film. By the way, Anya is becoming one of my favorite new actresses, and if you haven't done so already, go check out her amazing talent on display in one of the best films of last year in The Witch.
But let's also give credit where credit's due-- Shyamalan did good work here, and shows that he may finally getting back on that promising track he led us to believe he was on when he made The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable (and not leading the trainwrecks that were The Lady in the Water and The Happening). And he does so by getting back to his roots of suspense. Lest we forget, the man used to be really, really good at generating true cinematic suspense, and here he is Split doing it again. And... there is also a big spoiler alert moment I could bring up right now, but I won't. Let me just say if you were actually a fan of Shyamalan's first few movies, you will dig this film a little more than the rest. Is this a great movie? No, but it's really good, and makes me anxious to see what's next.
Directed by Peter Berg;
written by Berg, Matt Cook & Joshua Zetumer
Let's be honest, when you heard they were doing a movie about the terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon, you groaned. You probably even got angry and shouted about exploiting tragedy and the like... and then you saw the trailer, a lone tear fell from your eye and you said, "Okay, maybe." Then you heard Mark Wahlberg would be doing a Q&A, and you were like, "Oh, my God! I love him! I'm going! I'm going! I already bought tickets!" And then you beat the traffic over the hills into Hollywood to get your seats in second row only to hear that Mr. Wahlberg had something come up and could only introduce the movie, and were all, "That's less than five minutes of Mark! I'm not feeling good vibrations here!" But then the Arclight shrugged and went, "We'll give you all free movie passes to come back again," and then you were happy again and decided to stay and watch the movie all the same. Am I right? Did I nail the exact train of thought of every single person when they heard about Patriots Day? Yeah, thought so.
We totally made eye contact.
Patriots Day had to be a tough film to make, taking on a real-life, well-known tragedy, but Peter Berg and the crew did a pretty good job here by setting the story on the ground, and keeping it there. Instead of over-dramatizing the situation, set on some giant world-wide level (aka Michael Beying a film), what happens here is we follow the main characters-- from policeman to the victims to the terrorists themselves-- in their everyday life and take it step by step, dealing with the situations that arise as they arise, holding the story in the moment and keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, hearts thumping and eyes watering the whole way through.
I still maintain that Boston accents are ruining cinema, but this movie got a pass because they were easy to overlook since the filmmakers did a pretty damn good job making you feel one with Boston watching the movie... but then the Patriots went and won the Super Bowl again, so B-minus!