By Ross Maclean
A thriller set entirely in a confined location with the only means of communication for the protagonist being through crackly communication devices. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. There’s no getting away from the fact that the plot of Brake sounds remarkably similar to that of Buried from 2010, which starred Ryan Reynolds. Worry not, because in Brake the confined location is moving.
Stephen Dorff is Secret Service Agent Jeremy Reins who awakes to find himself in a strange location which he discovers to be a Perspex box inside the boot of car (or ‘trunk’ as the film inevitably refers to it). It soon becomes apparent that his captors need information from him regarding the location of the President in order to carry out their nefarious scheme. With only a CB radio for company he has to withhold that information and figure a way out.
As thrillers go, it just about keeps your attention. Dorff, who let’s face it never quite broke into the big time, handles himself well and expresses a suitable level of exasperation in spite of his limited scope. His gurgled screams and frantic exchanges do give him something to do in spite of a relatively nondescript role (although the fact he says “man” at the end of every sentence does begin to grate).
Coming back to Buried, the comparisons are unavoidable and if you’ve seen that you’ll recognise every plot beat and exchange in this almost word for word. Director Gabe Torres manages to make it visually interesting through a nicely designed location that allows for a few nifty camera moves considering the space, but it never has a sense of real dread when the outside world seems all too reachable.
When faced with a film that plays with convention by limiting its scope it attracts speculation from the get-go about where it’s headed. There’s always a suspicion that it feels it needs to do something shocking to win you over. It’s a shame that what might have been a taut, interesting thriller comes across as a bit of a copycat and, in an attempt to shake off comparisons, offers one of the most mind-numbingly ridiculous conclusions in recent memory.