CATEGORIES Drama, Independent, Sundance, Theatrical Reviews, Cinematical Indie, Reviews, Sundance Film Festival, Cinematical
In the opening scene of Adam Bhala Lough's bleak and listless Weapons, Nick Cannon gets his head blown off by a shotgun blast while scarfing down a fast food cheeseburger -- and the movie gets even less subtle from that point on. I'd like to say that the film, for all its grunge, grime and bleakness, is a well-intentioned piece, but I never really got that impression from Weapons. It's basically another "teens hate everyone, especially each other" story, not very much unlike River's Edge, Mean Creek or the collected works of Larry Clark -- only not nearly as good. (OK, it's better than most of Larry Clark's stuff.)
Presented in a contorted time frame that serves no real purpose, Weapons follows the activities of a group of hate-filled youths as they spend one day and one night doing simply terrible things to one another. This one's accused of raping that one, which means this other one is all hot for revenge, while these three different ones do some drugs and spit virtual bile at each other. Meanwhile the only halfway sympathetic character in the movie (and I do mean "only") is a rather stupid young woman who harbors a crush for one particularly vile young man ... because in a world filled with anger, abuse and hatred, you gotta take what you can get, right? Jeez.
There's not so much a "plot" as there is an "occurrence," one that involves a false rape accusation that quickly snowballs into something pretty damn ugly. At most points Weapons feels like a highway road accident; you watch because there just might be something shocking and violent ... but you're never even close to becoming invested on an emotional level. It's a base and ghoulish sort of reaction, but that's pretty much what Weapons feels like: you're not for one second given a viable reason to care about these characters, which means the movie quickly devolves into a series of arguments, fights and schoolboy insults that grow more than a little wearisome as the minutes tick on by.
Cast-wise, nobody (aside from Paul Dano as one of the skeeviest little bastards you'll ever see) make much of a lasting impression. Nick Cannon, the biggest name in the cast, provides clear proof that his acting skills are about on par with those of an actual cannon. (Watching Nick Cannon beat a man's face in with a fire extinguisher is all sorts of unintentionally hilarious ... plus the scene is an outright steal from Gaspar Noe's Irreversible.) The rest of the cast is asked to simply lob spittle at each other for 80-some minutes.
The young director (taking a step back from his Bomb the System) seems to realize there's very little story meat here, so he chooses to employ a "fractured narrative" approach that adds nothing to the paper-thin story or the impact it might have on an audience. Basically it feels like an editing gimmick utilized to camouflage an anemic story filled with irredeemably hateful characters. Were there some sort of morality lesson or message hidden beneath the violence and bile, Weapons might be a worthwhile (if still painfully familiar) little indie, but all I got from the movie was that "some kids are rotten little jerks who love nothing more than to kill each other for kicks and then laugh about it later."
As if we didn't know that already.