1. In the last year, we've had James Franco stuck alone in a cave crevice, Ryan Reynolds stuck alone in a coffin buried underground and Sam Rockwell stuck alone on a spaceship. (At least Rockwell had some clones to keep him company.) These movies weren't too bad, but the gimmick, rather immediately, has become tired, a way for a director to show how "innovative" they are. This is the lame American version of the Dogme obstructions. So, after Franco/cave, Reynolds/coffin and Rockwell/spaceship, I hope you'll forgive me for a weary sigh upon coming across Brody/car.
2. "Wrecked" features Adrien Brody, and pretty much only Brody, as a man who wakes up at the bottom of a revine, bruised, battered and completely lacking any idea of how he got there or even who he is. In an example of how "inventive" "Wrecked" is, we learn that Brody has no memory because he scratches "My Name Is _____" in the dashboard. (Because it would have made perfect sense for him to scratch "My Name Is Bob" on there, if he knew.) There's a dead guy in the seat behind him, a dead guy about 10 feet in front of the car and a conveniently timed radio dispatch about three men who have disappeared after a bank robbery in which a teller was killed. Brody's leg is broken and lodged into the passenger seat door, in case you were wondering why he can't just leave the car.
3. And that, friends, is the movie. We watch as Brody is: Cold; Wet; Thirsty; Bored; Scared. First-time director Michael Greenspan lacks the invention to do much else with the material, as scant as it is, though it is to his credit that the movie isn't just a series of flashbacks. But having constrained himself so much by the premise, Greenspan doesn't have much to dramatize. He tries various camera angles, from the rearviewmirror shot to the dashboard cam to the always-thrilling hood ornament cam. But because we know so little about Brody's character from the beginning, we're not invested in his plight. He is just a guy stuck in a car, in a lot of pain.
4. Boy, is Brody ever in a lot of pain in this movie. About halfway through, it becomes clear that, yes, you have been watching Adrien Brody grimace and groan in extreme closeup for about 45 minutes. Eventually he makes it out of the car, so the perspective changes from "agony Brody" to "crawling Brody." He meets a dog that might be an hallucination, and it is a measure of the film's low blood pressure that "is the dog real or not?" is one of the most pressing mysteries. I don't want to be flip about this: The last half of the film really is just Brody crawling around in the mud. Brody doesn't give a performance so much as complete an obstacle course. I feel bad about having my issues with "127 Hours," "Buried" and "Moon;" at least with those films, I never thought, "boy, focusing a whole film on one guy's face is extremely dull." Man, is it, though.
5. The "mystery" of how the car crash happened, and how Brody ended up stuck in the car with his memory gone, isn't revealed until the final scenes. This revelation is treated as if it's Bruce Willis being dead, or Tyler Durden being real. But it is as obvious and anticlimactic a resolution as you can imagine. It is a forehead slap of "whoa, that's what this is about? Really?" The film is 91 minutes that feel like months, and, all told, works mostly as an endorsement of seat belt safety. Why would a director do this to himself? Why would make it so difficult? Give us something to watch. "Wrecked" will cause you to tap your foot impatiently, waiting for something to happen. You will wait an awfully long time. I
am still waiting.