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I attended the world premiere of "Weapons" at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. For some reason, several films here have had some unusual similarities. I saw three in a row which I would characterize as being "hard to watch." That's not necessarily a bad thing -- the difficulty stemmed not from a lack of quality of the material but from the subject matter. In this case, well, the title is a pretty good tipoff. I also saw three films which open with a gunshot. In two cases, we don't know who or what has been the target. In the case of "Weapons," though, we know from the moment the film rolls. Nick Cannon's head is blown off. Literally. As writer/director Adam Bhala Lough so eloquently explained in the Q&A afterward, pineapples make a great substitute and some fancy optical effects do the rest. But it sure looks real, and signals what is to come -- the viewer is about to find out how we got to this point. We know the ending, now we go back to the beginning. In this case, several story lines are told in flashback, start to finish, start to finish, independently of each other. It's a structure we've seen before, and it can be a pretty effective technique in a crime drama. It works here, largely on the strength of performances by some of today's most talented yet underrated actors.
Sean (Mark Webber) arrives home from college to find his buddies, Chris (Paul Dano) and Jason (Riley Smith), ready to whip out the drugs and celebrate. But something is amiss, and before the first joint makes it to a roach there is a score to settle. Meanwhile, across town, Reggie (Nick Cannon) is preparing for a job interview when little sister Sabrina (Regine Nehy) walks in. Something is amiss, and there is a score to settle. And so it begins. Along the way Webber will be the reluctant accomplice, a man with a conscience. Dano will be the clueless fop who documents it all, annoyingly, with his camcorder. And Smith will march headlong into mayhem. On the other side of town, Cannon will go postal, becoming a madman reminiscent of Ben Foster's Jake in "Alpha Dog," another crime drama which premiered at Sundance last year and which opened several weeks ago. James (Brandon Smith), Sabrina's boyfriend, will accompany him on his mission to right the perceived wrong that is at the heart of the imminent confrontation.
Most of the film is shot with hand-held cameras, which can be powerful when the situation calls for it. The film is also characterized by long shots, sparing the jump cut editing so common in films whose demographic's attention span is coddled by music videos and Xbox. Many may find this uncomfortable. It's a daring style which signals Adam Bhala Lough as a director to be reckoned with -- it defies convention. The story is compelling enough to hold the viewer's interest despite the slow pace.
Theirs is a world of sex and drugs and violence. Surely some will see a political message in the availability of guns. Then again, Cannon's Reggie is so frightening, so out of control, that "guns don't kill people..." might be equally apt here. The title of the film says it all. "Weapons" is unapologetic, bold, and challenging. It will hit you over the head. This is one powerful film.
I love Paul Dano, which is why I started to watch this, but it was so boring, I couldn't continue.
Dull. Though the cinematography gave the movie a realistic home-movie type feel, the plot is weak and ultimately goes nowhere. What plot there is is not very engaging. Characters are mostly loathsome.
Performances are not very convincing.
Excellent, entertaining film despite the negative reviews. It is a horrific rollercoaster ride through the eyes of suburban youth. Worth a watch.
I was expecting this movie to be "ya whatever" but it was actually well written and played out nicely.
** (out of four)
Morality tale that fails to find its sense of humanity. The message is clear. If you deal with something with a violent mindset...then violence with escalate. True, but do we need a film where we don't really care about the characters to emphasize this?
There's very little to like about this film, other than the fact that it begins with the violent murder of Nick Cannon. Kind of a witless hybrid of Boyz 'N Tha Hood and Kids.
Tries to emulate the gritty/documentary style of films like "Kids", but backfires in it's wooden performances, hollow dialogue, and horrendous camera work.
Though the rest of the film can't beat past its superior opening shot, this is a vulgar, drug fueled and violent good time.