Director Bryan Singer helms a sprawling epic that’s merely cobbled together from familiar plot points and franchise curtain calls.
Frank follows a post-internet age Billy Liar and asks, “What if he did follow his dream through, but his idol was a lunatic?” Jon (Domnhall Gleeson), a young middling English songwriter, gets invited to play keyboard for the aforementioned Frank (Michael Fassbender). Frank wears a giant fake head made of papier-mâché and refuses to take it off. Soon, Jon is invited to spend a year in Ireland with the band as they record their painstakingly overblown album, all the while secretly filming it and posting clips to YouTube.
In early 2012, while most of the film world was caught up in Oscar prognostications, one film quietly came and went through theatres, earning less that $20 million domestically, and just over $30 million internationally. That film was Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, with Gina Carano taking on the lead role of Mallory Kane, and its quiet box office reception is in no way indicative of the film’s quality. While it may appear, on the surface, to be a standard action thriller – and there’s certainly no issue with that, as the genre is littered with efforts that fail to even be competent in their execution – in true Soderbergh style, there’s a lot more going on in Haywire than it may appear at first glance.
In his later years, the novelist Cormac McCarthy has circled like a vulture around the theme of death, specifically its inevitable grip on humanity. No Country for Old Men and The Road presented very different worlds, both filled with men trying desperately to withstand the inexorable hand of the reaper, and eventually realizing that there wasn’t much left but to give into what comes for us all. Such an existential fear is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the foundation of McCarthy’s newest foray, his screenplay for the crime thriller The Counselor. Its director is the prolific Ridley Scott, and its cast is impressively stacked, but this is a McCarthy story through and through, which is mostly heartening news.