Thursday, October 19, 2017

31 Days of Halloween 2017: Tank 432

2015, Nick Gillespie (camera guy on Ben Wheatley films) -- Netflix

OK, I admit I have a softspot for those first time directors who emerge from the shadow of other creators, to apply their own vision. Even when they are rough around the edges, you can see some sort of brilliance, and they also usually benefit from the tutelage of their betters, and can snag a few named actors from their connections. That can usually produce a decent product.

Not here.

This is supposed to be high concept, connected to assumed reality and hallucinations. We are supposed to wonder about where reality becomes vision, but almost immediately we can see the falsehoods when they cannot. So, when left with that, the only payoff for us is the explanations, why's and how's. This movie didn't bother with that.

A squad of soldiers (mercenaries? British army?) are leading a pair of captured women across the fields of nameless Europe. Someone is after them and they are cracking under the pressure. One is wounded and they have to find transportation. Kind of a classic premise, even if we get less than zero background. They find a farm that is filled with shipping containers, and inside those containers they find a woman gone mad. The first red flag was that they didn't question shipping containers sitting in the middle of the countryside on a farm; I assumed it must be connected to their mission and they expected them. But nope, they never even reference it. Its just a detail we can ignore. And then there are the headless bodies. And the orange dust everywhere.

The crew is mixed, in origins and skill sets. But none seems a real seasoned soldier but for their commander. I assumed it was just bad acting. But when they eventually end up inside the titular tank, I saw that their unprofessional-ism was by design. Its the plot. They are a bunch of randos in the middle of some experiment using the orange dust. OK, intriguing but only when coupled with details. Details that are never forthcoming. Its just not-soldiers acting soldiery oblivious to their own lack of memory about what is going on.

Oh, I get that is why the movie is so short on details -- that it wants us to feel as they feel, wrapped up in the story but not really sure of what is going on. But eventually as it becomes obvious they are being manipulated, we want to know why. We never get that so the whole thing ends up feeling a waste of time.