Film Review: Broken MileA chase thriller that may be the most boring use of the one-take movie gimmick ever.
A note to any filmmakers who may be reading this review: If you ever really feel the need to do one of those “done-in-one-shot” movies, hoping moviegoers will admire your creativity and genius as a filmmaker, then please, please, please make sure you have good characters and a good story that can keep them invested for that single take.
It’s obviously too late to keep writer-director Justin McConnell from making this mistake, as he introduces us to Francesco Filice’s Shaun as he wakes up in a bathtub with a puddle that’s presumably vomit—but it looks so much like pea soup, you wonder whether he’s going to explain to someone, “I had this great pea soup last night... and that’s the last thing I remember.”
As soon as Shaun awakens, he finds a dead woman named Sarah lying nearby, so he calls his ex-girlfriend Amy (Caleigh Le Grand) to get help figuring out what to do. Apparently, Sarah is the girlfriend of Shaun’s best friend Kenny (Patrick McFadden), and Shaun thinks she killed herself after getting pregnant after Shaun slept with her. If this sounds like a soap opera, it only gets worse when Kenny shows up with a gun, and Shaun and Amy go on the run, chased by Kenny, who “just wants to talk.”
In the hands of a better filmmaker, that sort of plot could be used to really pull the viewer into a movie while keeping them on edge. During most of the dialogue scenes, the acting is so flat it comes off more like a bad play than a soap opera, and it’s hard not to laugh as Shawn and Amy overanalyze his situation by uttering one cliché after another.
These days, it’s hard enough to pay attention to anything for more than ten to fifteen minutes, and expecting one to follow a bunch of generally unlikeable people as they do stupid things quickly grows tiring.
Despite my earlier sarcasm, McConnell does find a few ways to flip the script on the one-take genre by switching the perspective to different characters without breaking the take. It’s also kind of neat and fortuitous how it starts raining in the middle of his single-take movie.
Then again, using this format leads to things like the camera following Amy for what seems like 20 minutes or more as she leaves her apartment, goes to her car in the parking garage and then starts driving without saying a word. For a long time, we’re just watching her drive while listening to innocuous stuff on the radio, including a broadcast about Sarah’s death...which we only learned about 44 minutes prior.
McConnell also seems to enjoy the sound of unanswered ringing phones, something he uses repeatedly, just to drive home the point that no one wants to just tell Kenny what happened, which would quickly solve the problem.
Even the music becomes annoying, because it just won’t shut up. Yet it’s almost necessary—the performances are so flat and bland no one would be able to feel any tension otherwise.
Broken Mile is clearly a thriller made by someone who watched way too many better thrillers (particularly The Fugitive) and thought, “Hey, I can do that!” Sadly, not everyone has the talent of an Alfred Hitchcock or even a Brian de Palma to make something that can keep the audience on the edge of their seats. In fact, Broken Mile is a movie that’s almost impossible to watch in a single sitting.
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