It all makes for a somber and self-serious (Shyamalan’s Achilles Heel) popcorn pic that is easy enough to sit through even as its pointlessness grows with every act, and its final act underlines and admits it.
Pledge is a bloody, nervy and lean thriller about “hazing” taken to its logical extreme. If you’re OK with torturing somebody so that the “shared experience” will “bond” you to your “brothers,” maybe there’s a little sociopath in you, Pledge.
The year may be young, but Hollywood is going to be hard pressed to come up with a climax that is more anti-climactic than the many anti-climaxes that bring down the curtain on Escape Room, the first official dog of the new year.
The violent payoffs are well-staged and edited, and the archetypes solid. But McGowan can’t force herself or her cast to just get on with what they know they must get on with. The “Creek” never quite dries up, but we never get to the rapids either.
Through vivid, wrenching performances by Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges, it personalizes the statistics, and personalizes the glib talk show therapists who counsel “Let them go, you can’t save them.” Not if it’s your kid.
Filmmakers Jimmy Chin (Honnold’s longtime cinematographer) and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi get us up close, letting the camera do what Honnnold must do — extreme closeups of the rock face, intensely hunting for that next imperfection in the smooth granite, that next crack or crag that will move him further up the 3200 hundred foot wall.
Welcome to Marwen won’t be another Zemeckis blockbuster, won’t be anybody’s idea of Oscar bait. But here’s a thought-provoking holiday movie that gives the viewer something to chew on even if the story feels a trifle undigested, at times.
What screenwriter Christina Hodson delivers is an appealing heroine, an adorably vulnerable robot, all alone among the Mean Old Earthlings, and something this insanely successful but ever-so-empty-headed franchise has never had — charm.