Gavin (Charlie Hunnam) walks along a high rooftop and out onto the ledge. Detective Hollis Lucetti (Terrence Howard) finds out from his Doctor that he is sterile and then gets sent up to the roof top to try to talk Gavin down. Gavin says he must jump at noon, or else someone he cares about will die and so he unfolds for Hollis a bizarre back story involving a fundamentalist Christian and his damaged wife, infidelity and a deadly ultimatum.
At the heart of the intriguing premise presented by this otherwise low-key and sadly uninvolving drama is a question. Would you take your own life to spare the life of someone you love? Unfortunately what seems to have happened here is that a moral dilemma has been concocted and then an ensemble drama assembled around it, rather than allowing the characters to drive the narrative.
Although some care has been taken to give interesting and fleshed-out back-stories to each of the principals (Hollis finds he is sterile, yet he and his wife have two children, Gavin has a tragedy in his past and has become cynical, angry and bitter, Liv Tyler and Patrick Wilson have found each other and God after damaging pasts), the script is not up to scratch, meaning that the explanations of their respective histories feels hackneyed and laboured rather than organically threaded through the development of the script. Wilson in particular seems to be a mere cipher in the early stages, a bigoted and intolerant born-again Christian who serves as a sounding board for Gavin’s angry philosophical tirades, yet further depths to his character are revealed later, but it feels like a last-ditch attempt to invest humanity in an otherwise one-dimensional character, even though his speech in spelling out his dark past is by far the strongest sequence in the film.
The flash-back narrative device is well handled, avoiding being too quirky or muddled, though too little time is eventually spent with Gavin and Hollis on the roof and so the final few minutes feel rushed. These are all clearly capable actors and although each gets a scene or two where they get to do “proper acting”, too often they seem unconvinced as to the lines they are delivering, which fails to draw us in to what might otherwise succeed in being a compelling and engaging story.
There is plenty of strong language and some frank sexual content and conversations, but this is certainly not a throw-back sexual thriller in the vein of Fatal Attraction, Disclosure or Basic Instinct. Much of the time, everyone seems on autopilot when the story requires far more passionate engagement from the cast. The progression of Tyler and Gavin from colleagues to lovers is well-developed and believable, but more incident would have helped the film feel more sprightly. One final gripe is that too often Gavin’s embittered speeches feel like philosophical sound-bites that someone heard somewhere and fed into a film, rather than an organic expression of the character. It jolts and jars and pulls us out of the story.
A few interesting scenes and an interesting central idea do not a satisfying film make and although there are a number of elements to enjoy here, overall the film falls a little flat. One for the idly curious only. Available to buy only from 16th April.
Extras: Just a short behind the scenes featurette and the trailer. Very poor.