Malevolent Cool Meets Convoluted Plot Twist
We should be able to all agree on this one issue: Nobody plays malevolent cool like Samuel L. Jackson - nobody. And while the Quentin Tarantino classic, "Pulp Fiction," may have made Actor Jackson a thespian of some wide renown in regards to his delivering death dispassionately, and with some sense of unflinching style and dispassionate humor, his well rendered sociopathic bent as Tarantino's Jules Winfield was continuously evident in Meeting Evil, but not as cool, and definitely unsympathetic in all regards.
Why so unsympathetic as the malevolent sociopath?
Simply, we got to know his prey, his victim - every-man-actor Luke Wilson. Actor Wilson, while he does not have the onscreen presence of Actor Jackson - few actors do - he does play well the regular guy, irrespective of his quirky qualities and foils as the film's protagonist.
Director Chris Fisher used Luke Wilson's calm style as a recently unemployed real estate agent to project the symbol, to express the truth that many regular folks have realized the lowly position of being financially savaged by this terrible and prolonged recession. To add the element of dramatic twist, this "regular John," played by Wilson, could, unfortunately, also become the prey of a sociopath, Richie, played by Jackson, who, like Beelzebub down below, is able to cajole John to reluctantly become his temporary abductee to enjoin in all manner of mayhem. Just for the record: Luke Wilson's John had no hand in the mayhem and murder, as Richie's abducted accessory and worked diligently to break free of Richie's evil bond.
Irrespective of John's desperate diligence to cleave himself from Richie's terrible grasp, in this story of hired hitman-befriends-prey, there was a considerable amount of collateral damage. In fact, there was so much collateral damage, one might question if it was the ambition of Directer Fisher, who coauthored the screenplay along with Thomas Berger (wrote the titular novel), to decisively show just how utterly evil this malevolent character was, or just to see how many disinterested parties could be gruesomely murdered by Richie, the hitman in the film's spare 89 minutes of runtime, in lieu of his final hit - John.
If the intention was to reward the audience with a healthy body-count, creatively destroyed all, they were successful. If the intention was to provide a story that was grounded in the reality that a sympathetic regular "John," Wilson, could endure all this malicious evil, and survive, but yet not survive the effects of the devastated economy and retain some measure of dignity, they failed.
And even though the film failed on the merits of its story grounded in some semblance of reality, one has to respect that any poor or uniquely weird story can be relatively entertaining providing that Samuel L. Jackson plays the hitman, and Luke Wilson plays the subject of the hitman's ambition. On this merit alone the film survives my wrath in review, but it was always on a slippery slope.
Maybe it is just the case of this reviewer "Meeting Evil," surviving to write another day, and in some strange vicarious sense of Stockholm Syndrome, by proxy, with the abducted John, I just cannot bring myself to convey total disdain for the film. Watch the film at your own risk, and you may find yourself a bit less ambivalent than myself.
Rated R. Released in theaters May 4, 2012.