Once in awhile you come across a film that’s so dull, pointless and repulsive that it makes you question your own movie tastes. Are you actually a cynical person who sticks his/her nose up to any independent movie that comes your way? No, it’s just that The Bag Man may be one of the worst films to come out this year so far.
- Director: David Grovic
- Writers: David Grovic, Paul Conway
- Cast: John Cusack, Robert De Niro, Rebecca Da Costa, Crispin Glover, Dominic Purcell
- Cinematography By: Steve Mason
- Original Music By: Tony Morales, Edward Rogers
Jack (Cusack) is a criminal hired by his shady new boss Dragna (De Niro) to get his hand on a mysterious bag, bringing it to a random motel. At that point he must wait until Dragna arrives to retrieve the bag, but obstacles quickly block Jack’s path from making this a simple exchange on a night that could be his last.
- The Tone: There isn’t too much that The Bag Man gets right, but one of them is the overall tone, the feel of this film. Right after the opening scene the audience dives into this dank world of greed and despair entrapped around this dingy motel in the middle of nowhere. When Jack (Cusack) starts running into all sorts of trouble with the eclectic folk surrounding this run-down establishment, the production design and music fits perfectly with the world around our main character. The best way to watch this movie is sometime at night, whether it would be in the comfort of your own home (thanks to VOD) or at a movie theater. It adds on to the dark, uncomfortable feeling that oozes out of this film.
- Direction: There are some inklings of a decent director in David Grovic popping out in The Bag Man, but it’s not always apparent. He knows how to shoot his action sequences, building up the tension in a gun fight, but a vast majority of the shots are slightly unimaginative and rely a bit on editing to keep the slower scenes from being too incredibly dull. There’s some potential buried within David Grovic, but a thriller of this sort doesn’t fit him. Perhaps an action film would be better suited for this filmmaker.
- Female Lead: No offense to actress Rebecca Da Costa, but her character and performance was the weakest in the bunch. The delivery of her lines was flat, a bit monotone and her posture made it out as if she were incredibly uncomfortable in the costume that she was wearing throughout the shoot. The actress knows how to pretend like she’s beaten up, as her character continually gets tossed around throughout the film, but that’s not really a compliment.
- Hateful: It’s difficult to really keep your attention on a film like this when you see the only female character in the bunch get continually beaten, and nearly raped, from beginning to end. She’s able to redeem herself towards the end, but the way they wrote this character is almost hateful. One could make the accusation that the writers are rather spiteful of women, and therefore took out a lot of their frustrations out on the only female in the movie. The way the writers handled her was a bit disgusting, and no matter what kind of happy ending the character got wasn’t worth it considering the fictional hell they put her through.
- I Have To Root For Him?: John Cusack is a fairly talented actor, but there isn’t much of that to be found in The Bag Man. His repulsive, unlikable character turns from possible anti-hero to a despicable being in the first 20 minutes. Why do we have to follow this guy around? There’s nothing redeeming about this character, even when they slather on the inevitable back story of how he came to be such a corrupt bastard. Cusack flies off the rails with his acting, doing his best over-the-top paranoid character impression throughout a majority of the film. It’s as if the director figured hey, Cusack is an accomplished actor, so I’ll let him handle his character his own way without any guidance or tips from my end. Come on Cusack, you can do better than this film.
- Lighting: They got the overall tone right in The Bag Man, but halfway through the movie I thought the film’s bulb was too dim. It wasn’t the bulb keeping us in near perpetual darkness, but the piss-poor lighting choices. We’re drowning in cascades of darkness after a certain point, and we can’t really see what’s going on with our main characters. Did something important happen in that scene? Because I couldn’t see it. It’s one thing to keep the tone consistent, but to handle the lighting in such a manner was an amateur move.
- Yawn-Worthy Ending: When it’s revealed about Dragna’s true intentions, which still don’t many any sense whatsoever, he gives a drab monologue speech that results into a massive shootout. The fact that any sort of additional action was slathered onto the end must have been a last-ditch effort by the writers to keep your attention, even if your interests have already wandered off elsewhere at least 30 minutes ago, like mine did while watching this film. When Rivka (Da Costa) pulls one more trick and gets her hand on Dragna’s cash, it really is of no importance at this point. My mind was still lost in the dark crevasses
If you have a few bucks to spare, keep yourself away from this drab excuse of a thriller and watch something else. The Bag Man is perhaps one of the most uncomfortably masochistic movies I’ve seen in a long while, and that’s not a compliment.
The Bag Man is out in limited theaters and VOD now.