Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Unthinkable" (2010)

Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Carrie-Anne Moss and Michael Sheen
Written by Oren Moverman and Peter Woodward
Directed by Gregor Jordan
Rated R - Torture, language
Running Time: 97 minutes

Unthinkable [Blu-ray]"Unthinkable" is a direct-to-video psychological thriller that attempts to explore the idea of the ends justifying the means, and how far idealistic people will go to protect those ideals while still trying to save innocent lives. 

FBI Agent Helen Brody (Carrie-Anne Moss) is brought to a top-secret location and told to assist in the questioning of one Steven Arthur Younger (Michael Sheen), who claims to have placed three nuclear bombs across the United States that are set to go off in three days. Along with Brody, a black-ops agent known only as "H" (Samuel L. Jackson) arrives.  H is a master interrogator, trained in various, vicious methods of torture and psychological manipulation. 

At first, Brody is disgusted by H's methods, constantly bickering with her superiors that H's actions are illegal and unconscionable.  But as time grows short, and H begins to actually make progress, she starts to go along with it, despite her own objections.  Unfortunately, it seems that even H's torture may not be enough - Younger is playing them, to what end they are not sure.  Brody must decide which side she's on when H makes his most desperate play yet: using Younger's own children against him.  At what point will she give up on her ideals in order to save millions of lives?

Reading the above description might give one the impression that "Unthinkable" is a good movie; it's not.  While the kernel of a good idea exists, the script and the direction simply can't prop it up.  At the end of the day, "Unthinkable" wishes it were some lofty exploration of its themes, but can only manage to be a laughable torture-porn loaded with overblown performances and bad dialogue.  The characters walk around the limited empty locations and shout their obvious feelings to each other.  The torture sequences are painful to watch, but are the only time the film shows any kind of real ingenuity.  The fate of Younger's wife in particular is the only shock in the entire movie that will stick with you, if only because of the sheer audacity of the scene.

There's not much more to say about "Unthinkable."  Once you've seen it, the reasons why it went directly to DVD seem pretty clear: "Unthinkable" is a bad movie.  Even the cast of recognizable faces and usually reliable character actors including Brandon Routh, Benito Martinez, Martin Donovan and Stephen Root can't help that their characters all spout bland dialogue in bland situations.