Surveillance

Released: Jan 9th 2009

Directed By: Jennifer Lynch.

Starring: Bill Pullman, Julia Ormond, Michael Ironside

Jennifer (daughter of David) Lynch hasn’t made a movie since 1993’s bizarre pseudo S&M mess Boxing Helena. While Surveillance is nowhere near as bad as that piece of soft-core ‘erotic’ nonsense, it does suffer from some similar problems of style, tone and scripting.

The premise of the film is that the FBI are tracking a pair of serial killers with the help of three different survivors; a drug using teen, a little girl and a police officer. The problem the feds have is that they all tell completely different stories. Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond are the agents entrusted with the task of deciphering the mystery. They both give fairly good performances and handle the poor script with as much dignity and guile as they can. Through no fault of his own, cult character actor Michael Ironside (of V, Total Recall and Starship Troopers fame) gives a disappointingly innocuous performance as the local Captain. His character has little to do and seems more of an afterthought than anything else.

While the perversion of authority is dealt with reasonably well and at some length – the local officers do an entertaining and disturbing ‘good cop/bad cop’ routine – there is a huge gaping wound of a flaw at the heart of the movie. Without giving too much away, any moviegoer who has seen more than a handful of thrillers or horror films will spot the twist coming a light-year away. It is far too obvious and irrevocably damages the film. This is a shame as there are some interesting, albeit underdeveloped, ideas floating around. The acting is solid enough and at times there is a genuine air of trademark Lynch familyweirdness. However, the lack of any real sort of motivation for the murders, limp dialogue, terrible characterisation and the 10 ton clanger of a ‘twist’ mentioned above renders Surveillance lifeless and ultimately pointless.

Rob Monk