Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: Hereafter

Clint Eastwood has become one of the best directors working in Hollywood today. He consistently cranks out quality movie after quality movie (Invictus, Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River to name a few). Re-teaming with his Invictus star Matt Damon, Clint gives us the new movie Hereafter which to me seemed like a sure thing given the pedigree of the stars involved. The movie deals with supernatural themes and focuses on the one question I always dwell on in my own life: "What happens to us when we die."

Unfortunately that question is never really explored in detail and instead I found out the answer to "can Clint Eastwood actually make a boring and bland movie?" The answer is a resounding YES. Hereafter is a muddled muck of a film that spends far too much time focusing on actors and storylines that we don't care about as an audience. Cecile De France (yes, she's French) plays a TV reporter who nearly dies in a tsunami and questions her own mortality. Two british twin actors play a set of twins (one of which dies suddenly and the other deals with the tragic loss). Two unknown actors play social workers in a Law and Order style look at dealing with a child who has lost his brother and has an alcoholic mom. All these relatively mediocre plot threads clog up too much screen time. The most interesting aspect to the movie, Matt Damon once again delivering a strong performance as a retired psychic who can make connections to the departed, is pushed to the side at times. In fact, the BEST performance in the whole movie is given by Bryce Dallas Howard who plays Damon's flirtatious cooking school partner. Too bad she is on screen for only 5 to 10 minutes and then vanishes without any sort of explanation.

After the meandering and plotting pace of the 2-hour-plus (and it feels like more) runtime I had hoped we would get a solid ending that really explored the theory of life after death. Instead we get an overly cheesy reunion between two characters who had zero connection throughout the movie. I felt like Eastwood and his writing team were making the movie up as they went along.

Please wait for video (or more likely cable) with Hereafter. This is a major speed bump in the stellar directing career of a cinematic legend. Howard and Damon totally carry the movie and make it somewhat worth watching. All in all a very dissapointing 1.5 our of 5 JRs for one of the worst movies I've seen in 2010 in the theater. On the horizon are three movies I am very much looking forward to seeing: Harry Potter 7-1, Tron Legacy and (the ID4 clone) Skyline. I have hopes that Skyline might be this year's District 9 so I'm sure I will be let down.

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