Apparently we’ve all got a miracle in us and its our destiny to perform them, no matter how long it takes, and once we do we become stars in the sky, or something. And there are demons (like Russell Crowe) trying to stop us from fulfilling our destiny while also running the organized crime world in New York City. Or something. Oh, and there’s a flying white horse. Welcome to the directorial debut of Akiva Goldsman, the screenwriter behind Batman & Robin, Lost in Space and the Da Vinci Code.
- Director: Akiva Goldsman
- Writer: Akiva Goldsman (based on the novel by Mark Helprin
- Cast: Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jennifer Connelly, Will Smith
- Cinematography: Caleb Deschanel
- Original music by: Rupert Gregson-Williams and Hans Zimmer
A charming thief (Colin Farrell) falls hard for a consumptive young heiress (Jessica Brown Findlay), convinced the power of his love can keep her alive. But his demon of a boss (Russell Crowe) has other plans. Ninety-eight years later, an un-aged Farrell and his flying horse get another chance to save a life.
- So much pretty: The film works best (briefly) during the meet-cute between Farrell and Findlay (who was clearly cast because the producers thought, “Who do we know that’s good at falling in love with Irishmen below her station and then dying young?”) when he breaks into her seemingly empty mansion. But then, the actors are so charming and pretty that they could just sit staring at each other and make audiences swoon. If anything, the dialogue gets in the way.
- Credibility issues: There’s a certain amount of willing suspension of disbelief that’s required to sell a story like this, and the ones that work do so because they make a convincing case right off the top as to why the audience should buy in. This film, however, assumes you already have and just gets going with the sheer ridiculousness.
- Your math is wrong: Demons running the Bowery Boys, flying horses, love that can make you immortal, Lucifer (Will Smith) just hanging out reading “a Brief History of Time” in a New York catacomb — sure, fine, whatever. But you lose us completely when the 8-year-old girl from 1916 shows up as the editor-in-chief of a New York newspaper in 2014. But she does look great for 106.
- That’s not how accents work: Farrell’s Peter Lake was abandoned by Russian immigrants as a baby and raised in NYC by Crowe’s Pearly Soames, yet he talks like he’s straight outta Dublin. Yes, Soames is also Irish, but if Lake’s speech were mannered after Soames’, he wouldn’t have an Irish accent. He’d have a terrible Irish accent. See also: Findlay’s inexplicable British-ness in an otherwise American family.
Just plain ridiculous. Goldsman takes whatever apparently worked about Halprin’s sprawling novel and reduces it to a flat, lifeless combination of Mitch Albom-level spiritual pablum and cheap bodice-ripping Harlequin romance. But with an all-star cast!