“You don’t let them take me. If it comes to …
Ever since Wayward Pines was announced as an M. Night Shyamalan project, the threat of the twist ending is one that’s hung over the entire series. For better or worse, Shyamalan’s name is associated with stories that try to come out of left field in the apex of the third act and surprise you with the idea that nothing you’ve witnessed is what it seems, ends that enjoy their trickiness so much it keeps them blind to the fact that they don’t bear up under scrutiny. And given the early ads for the show, which were heavy on that symbolism—as well as too heavy on imagery and quotes that invited unflattering Twin Peaks comparisons—it was hard to dissuade yourself of that expectation going in.
Ever since the true nature of Wayward Pines was revealed back in “The Truth,” the idea of sacrifice has hung over the bulk of the show. In order to save humanity, Pilcher, Pam, Megan, and every member of the support team had to give up their lives as they knew them. In doing so, they gave themselves the authority to force the sacrifices of countless other individuals, those they deemed necessary to ensure humanity’s future.
While Denzel Washington shares the same name as Edward Woodward’s character from The Equalizer television show, that’s exactly where the similarities end. The word equalizer isn’t even mentioned except for the credits. Further establishing differences between the two McCalls are the digs they occupy. Rather than roll around in a flashy Jaguar, Washington’s McCall takes public transportation and spends his days in anonymity working for Home Depot. He comes home to a fairly bare apartment in a lower-class corner of Boston. Nights when Robert can’t sleep he reads Cervantes in diners. This life is simple and it’s what he promised someone he loved.
Overstuffed with an A-list cast, Denis Villeneuve’s (Incendies, Polytechnique) Prisoners is a funereal and often shocking meditation on what people are capable of doing for their loved ones. Permeated with savagery and blood, this is a film that forces ghastly situations on the audience which they’ve likely seen before but are hopefully not entirely numb to processing from a victim’s point of view. The drive behind what holds a family together for better or worse is showcased in painful detail. Gruesome, agonizing, and distressing, Prisoners goes for the jugular and leaves everyone wincing at the hideous view of the human condition that it leaves in its wake.
Oblivion is what one might classify as an amalgamation sci-fi. Though many a contemporary feature in the genre is in clear debt to a prior work, Oblivion is one such example where the narrative similarities and likely intentional visual references cover a particularly wide array of films and literature, including La Jetée, WALL-E, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Mad Max, Jin-Roh, I Am Legend, and one particular sci-fi of the past decade that simply mentioning would probably provoke likely guesses of a major plot development in one’s mind before seeing the film.