July 30, 2010

Decisions! Decisions!

Day 8 of my Joseph Gordon-Levitt marathon finally hits a snag. Is it possible that he could be involved in a bad film that doesn't involve the phrase, "Yo Joe", where he is the lead? Believe it!

They say that a decision is everything. One small decision can shake the very fabric of the world, turn it on it's head, and change the lives of everyone involved. The film Uncertainty deals with the unpredictable nature of decisions, and the various outcomes that could come from the different ones presented to you. It's a lucrative topic that can provide a wonderful amount of content and substance that will make a great film. So, why does this suck? A clever gimmick can carry a film (see Brick). But, you also need a good script and story to help out, and Uncertainty has neither, instead relying specifically on the setup to keep the audience interested. It's a lazy attempt at the dual plot thing perfected by Memento. 

Motion Blur!

Uncertainty begins with a couple, Bobby and Kate, standing on the Brooklyn Bridge, contemplating how they are going to spend their day. To decide, they toss a coin, and, from there, the movie plays out both options simultaneously. One options sees them going into Brooklyn and hail a cab. While in the cab, they find a phone that had been dropped by a random person. Being the good samaritan's that they are, Bobby and Kate pick up the phone, with the intention of returning it to whoever it belonged to. Unfortunately, the phone belongs to some none too savory people, and soon, Bobby and Kate are on the run from hitmen, and other people who would love nothing more then to kill them and acquire the phone. The second story could not be more different. It sees Bobby and Kate going to see Kate's family (which is a potentially more terrifying premise than being chased by hitmen, depending on who you ask), so that Kate can muster up the courage to tell her mother some big news.

Basically, it's two movies, and one of them is significantly better than the other. The plot revolving around the phone is fairly interesting, and pretty tense, in some moments. The other story about the family just slogs on forever, and goes nowhere. The two stories are told simultaneously, cutting back and forth between each other, so the pacing of this movie is all over the place. It is taut and fast paced one moment, and then slow and boring the next. This last for the whole movie, making the one hour, forty-five minute runtime seem sooooooo much longer. And don't even get me started on the plot holes, of which there are many, and the ending, which is infuriating. Nothing happens in the family plot line, and there are so many unexplained elements in the phone plot line. This is weak storytelling and weak writing, and, when the total cop out of an ending comes along, you'll be glad it's over!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt manages to salvage some of the film, but this is easily one of the weakest performances to come out of him. I blame the script, which doesn't give him anything of substance to work with, and he does do a fairly decent job with it, but, Mysterious Skin or The Lookout, this is not!

Lynn Collins is Kate. Like Gordon-Levitt, she's alright, but it is still a relatively weak performance. Granted, she hasn't built up the impressive resume that JGL has, but this is a much better performance that whatever the hell she was doing in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. But, the script gives her even less to do than it does Gordon-Levitt, so we connect with her even less. 

Other performances are inconsequential, so you won't hear anything about them from me. The acting from the two leads is better then the script would allow, but, it is not up to the quality that we expect from the stars. 

Quiet! Contemplating!

Writers/Directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel have the workings and the idea of a potentially great movie. The have come up with a really clever way to distinguish the two plots from each other. They use primary colors, yellow being the primary color for the phone plot, and green being the primary one for the family. But, that is as far as their good contributions go. Their writing is uninspired, the dialogue forced. Their direction is stilted, bringing nothing in the way of style or originality to their shooting. They are clearly lost by the complex story they have come up with, and as such, bumble along for the whole thing. These two have shown themselves to be competent directors (see Bee Season). They do not bring any of that here. Quite disappointing, if you ask me. 

Look, Uncertainty is not terrible. The performances by JGL and Collins are adequate, but, and this is more aimed at JGL than Collins, they are not up to the level that we expect. There is some stuff to hold your interest, but, if you decide to skip this one, you won't hear any gripes from me. Choose wisely! The decision you make will shake the foundations of your life!


  1. Aww, sad to hear. I've got this in my Netflix queue and was looking forward to it, even if it sounds like an alternate version of Sliding Doors. Being a fellow Jo-Go lover, I'll still give it a shot.

  2. At least they spared us the torture of this being two seperate films. Than they would've been exruciating.

  3. Aww, sad to hear. I've got this in my Netflix queue and was looking forward to it, even if it sounds like an alternate version of Sliding Doors. Being a fellow Jo-Go lover, I'll still give it a shot.