Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Detour

The latest “survival in a confined space” thriller, Detour doesn’t take enough of a turn from expected generic conventions.

March 28, 2013

-By Eric Monder


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1374238-Detour_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Joining Buried and 127 Hours as part of subgenre (literally a subterranean genre) of movies about men trapped beneath the Earth, Detour follows a similar formula and becomes more tedious than suspenseful. However, William Dickerson competently directs his first feature film, which seems destined for—and might play best on—late-night cable.

In Dickerson’s screenplay (co-written with Dwight Moody), Jackson Adler (Neil Hopkins), an arrogant advertising executive, finds himself in his car surrounded by earth after a California mudslide knocks him off the road. His initial attempts at getting out falter and he becomes both panicky and depressed, recalling the people in his life in daydreams that turn into nightmares. Jackson is most concerned with surviving in order to be with his pregnant wife, Laurie (Brea Grant). He watches footage he shot of Laurie on his iPhone and records messages to her, which he starts to believe will be his last communication before he dies (otherwise, the phone is useless when he tries to call anyone). Through some clever—albeit desperate—thinking, Jackson makes one last try at getting out of the car and up to the Earth’s surface. Whether he makes it or not, he realizes through his experience what is important in life.

Not to be confused with the 1945 cult classic of the same name, Detour shares a few characteristics, including a film noir look, an anti-hero, and a car as an important story component. Otherwise, this new Detour also borrows heavily from the aforementioned Buried and 127 Hours (plus Wrecked and Brake), even right down to the use of new-fangled technology (iPhones or cameras) as helpmates to the hapless protagonists. At least the more independently produced Detour doesn’t blatantly advertise the high-tech products the way the overrated 127 Hours does or make the smart-phone unrealistically usable the way Buried does, but one cannot help long for the days of man-against-nature survival films (e.g., 1953’s Inferno) that leave out the Brave New World assist.

Aesthetically, Detour also avoids the gratuitous CGI silliness that further marred 127 Hours, maintaining more of the simplicity of Buried, but overall they all tell similar stories with similar messages and in similar ways. One of those similar messages—flawed hero realizes the errors of his ways through his trial-by-terra firma—is quaintly humanistic but hardly anything revelatory. (Let’s face it, none of these films is Woman in the Dunes).

At least Dickerson handles his production well, giving a sense of authenticity to Jackson’s scenes in the car and a touch of surrealism to the man’s daydreams. Neil Hopkins does a yeoman’s job playing the leading role—in fact, Hopkins makes his character unpleasant to the point of distancing the viewer from really caring what happens to him, one way or the other. In other words, perhaps the actor is too good! The other technical credits are about average.

Detour appears to mark the “jump the shark” moment of this kind of film during its MacGyver-styled climax; now it is time for the parody—Joan Rivers stuck in a window display after closing hours at Saks Fifth Avenue. That is a movie more people might want to see.


Film Review: Detour

The latest “survival in a confined space” thriller, Detour doesn’t take enough of a turn from expected generic conventions.

March 28, 2013

-By Eric Monder


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1374238-Detour_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Joining Buried and 127 Hours as part of subgenre (literally a subterranean genre) of movies about men trapped beneath the Earth, Detour follows a similar formula and becomes more tedious than suspenseful. However, William Dickerson competently directs his first feature film, which seems destined for—and might play best on—late-night cable.

In Dickerson’s screenplay (co-written with Dwight Moody), Jackson Adler (Neil Hopkins), an arrogant advertising executive, finds himself in his car surrounded by earth after a California mudslide knocks him off the road. His initial attempts at getting out falter and he becomes both panicky and depressed, recalling the people in his life in daydreams that turn into nightmares. Jackson is most concerned with surviving in order to be with his pregnant wife, Laurie (Brea Grant). He watches footage he shot of Laurie on his iPhone and records messages to her, which he starts to believe will be his last communication before he dies (otherwise, the phone is useless when he tries to call anyone). Through some clever—albeit desperate—thinking, Jackson makes one last try at getting out of the car and up to the Earth’s surface. Whether he makes it or not, he realizes through his experience what is important in life.

Not to be confused with the 1945 cult classic of the same name, Detour shares a few characteristics, including a film noir look, an anti-hero, and a car as an important story component. Otherwise, this new Detour also borrows heavily from the aforementioned Buried and 127 Hours (plus Wrecked and Brake), even right down to the use of new-fangled technology (iPhones or cameras) as helpmates to the hapless protagonists. At least the more independently produced Detour doesn’t blatantly advertise the high-tech products the way the overrated 127 Hours does or make the smart-phone unrealistically usable the way Buried does, but one cannot help long for the days of man-against-nature survival films (e.g., 1953’s Inferno) that leave out the Brave New World assist.

Aesthetically, Detour also avoids the gratuitous CGI silliness that further marred 127 Hours, maintaining more of the simplicity of Buried, but overall they all tell similar stories with similar messages and in similar ways. One of those similar messages—flawed hero realizes the errors of his ways through his trial-by-terra firma—is quaintly humanistic but hardly anything revelatory. (Let’s face it, none of these films is Woman in the Dunes).

At least Dickerson handles his production well, giving a sense of authenticity to Jackson’s scenes in the car and a touch of surrealism to the man’s daydreams. Neil Hopkins does a yeoman’s job playing the leading role—in fact, Hopkins makes his character unpleasant to the point of distancing the viewer from really caring what happens to him, one way or the other. In other words, perhaps the actor is too good! The other technical credits are about average.

Detour appears to mark the “jump the shark” moment of this kind of film during its MacGyver-styled climax; now it is time for the parody—Joan Rivers stuck in a window display after closing hours at Saks Fifth Avenue. That is a movie more people might want to see.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Oscar Nominated Documentary Shorts 2015
Film Review: The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015: Documentary

The long shadow and in-your-face reality of mortality shadows nearly all the entries in this year’s powerful, draining Oscar-nominated documentary short films program. More »

Film Review: The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015: Live- Action

This year’s program of Oscar-nominated live-action short films is longer on character and short on cute. More »

Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts 2015
Film Review: The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015: Animation

Disney’s wonderful canine tale Feast is the standout in this year’s program of Oscar-nominated animated shorts. More »

Timbuktu
Film Review: Timbuktu

A nuanced, humanistic portrait of a town besieged by jihadists, its images of violence suffused with almost surreal dreaminess. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Wedding Ringer
Film Review: The Wedding Ringer

Intermittently amusing bro-comedy trifle that confirms Kevin Hart's talent, though not his taste in material. More »

Paddington
Film Review: Paddington

This feel-good, looks-great first-time big-screen adaptation of the beloved British children's stories about a stowaway Peruvian bear finding his, er, bearings in London is much more than just, oops, bearable. The handsome production greatly benefits from a top-notch cast of some of the U.K.’s finest actors and its beautiful blend of CGI-enriched live action and animated ursine star. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here