Every film you go to see asks you to suspend belief. It is sorta the unwritten contract between the film goer and the director. Very few films achieve the nirvana of complete reality. I accept that. Scratch that. I actually welcome that. To be able to shut out reality or our lives for a short period of time is great. Escape in the form of art is even better. The genre of science fiction is one that leans heavily upon that premise most of the time. It is one that explores the depths of human imagination. That is what attracts millions to it. That ability to ponder about what is out there in that huge universe of ours is delightful. But even within science fiction there is a limit of suspension of belief that can go on. If it goes too far then it pulls you out of the story the director is trying to tell.
Such is the case with Steven Shainberg’s (Secretary, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus) latest (and first film in a decade), Rupture. He asks us to go too far. Too far for way too little of a payoff.
Recently divorced Renee (Noomi Rapace – Prometheus, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) is dealing with life. She has an angry ex-husband and her pre-teen son Evan (Percy Hynes White – The Grand Seduction, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb) gets angry every time he tries to do math homework. Still she has a pretty good grip on things. So much so that a friend talks her into going sky diving on the weekend her ex has Evan. Something even more frightening than jumping out of a plane is going to happen to her.
While on her way to sky diving her car gets a flat tire. A guy (Sergio Di Zio – The Boondock Saints, Cinderella Man) in a service van pulls over behind her and offers to help. Hesitantly she takes his offer of help and it turns into a grave error. He and an accomplice (Morgan Kelly – A History of Violence, The Lookout) taser Renee, tape her head up and bundle her into the back of the van. There is a woman (Lesley Manville – Maleficent, Secrets & Lies) there who tells Renee that it is going to be a long ride and gives her a bucket to pee in.
When the van finally stops the chained up Renee is put on a gurney and wheeled into some kind of building. No one will tell her why she is there, but it obviously isn’t for money or ransom. Soon people like Dianne (Kerry Bishé – Sex and the City, Argo), Terrence (Peter Stormare – Fargo, The Big Lebowski), a man without a name (Michael Chiklis – from television’s The Shield), and a doctor (Ari Millen – from television’s Orphan Black) begin asking her bizarre questions, poking, prodding, injecting her with an odd orange liquid, and performing other tests on her. Renee’s captors want something far more sinister from her than money.
The screenplay for Rupture was written by Shainberg and Brian Nelson (30 Days of Night, Hard Candy). A science fiction thriller that has as its core that humans have practically destroyed this planet and an evolution must happen to save it. Sounds interesting, no? Something that you would want to spend an hour and 42 minutes watching, no? The answer to these two questions can be found within the question itself – no. Which is a shame because the premise has plenty of potential.
There were many frustrations littered throughout the film. How was Renee so good at survival? Was she a trained secret agent because she acted all Jason Bourne-like when it came time for her to try and escape. Another was how were we supposed to feel tension over Renee’s capture and testing when the people who had her seemed non-threatening and supportive? An important part of a thriller is that you feel tension, but there was precious little to be found here. On the other hand it was rather creepy.
That is something that can be said about Shainberg’s films. The guy knows how to create an atmosphere. Unfortunately this one was all substance and not high on content.
Then there was the awful ending. The opportunity was there to go out in glory. Instead it was with a whimper. Or more precisely a groan.
Visually (Karim Hussain – Hobo With a Shotgun, We Are Still Here) the film was remarkable with crisp pictures, great camera angles and sharp colours. The cast, especially Noomi Rapace, did their best with the lean material they were given. Some, like Chiklis and the doctor, tended towards overacting or very stylized acting because they had nothing from the script to fall back on.