Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Film Review: Not Safe For Work (2014)

Not Safe For Work (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"If you need to kill an hour and ten minutes, this is a solid thriller."

Late one night, Thomas (Max Minghella), a paralegal, witnesses a mysterious man (JJ Feild) murder a lawyer and finds himself trapped in the building.

Not Safe For Work is a fairly simple film. The film follows Thomas and this paralegal office as they prepare for two major cases. After a disappointing day, Thomas sees a mysterious man enter the elevator and head to his office floor. He follows and witnesses a murder. A game of cat-and-mouse ensues, with a twist at every other corner. Nothing mind-blowing, but I won't bother to spoil it. The ending was predictable and forgettable -- I didn't like it.

Not Safe For Work is a decent film. If you're looking for a straightforward thriller, this is a satisfying treat. After the first 20 minutes, which are fairly boring, the film becomes a nonstop thrill-ride. The game of cat-and-mouse is effective, with some solid suspense and many close calls. There are a few twists and turns during the latter half, but nothing especially effective. I could see most of the film from a mile away. Fortunately, the film features a very short runtime and a very fast pace. This is a film with little filler, and I appreciate that.

So, what didn't I like about the film? Like I said, the first 20 minutes are a drag. I love buildup, but only when it's effective. This film has buildup, but it's boring. Why is it boring? Well, Thomas, who you spend the first 20 minutes with, is bland and cliché. This character was off - for lack of a better term - due to the writing and the performance. Aside from the boring introduction and bland lead, the film is also contrived. There are quite a few times where you'll question the characters and their choices. There are even a few holes in the narrative to accompany the holes in the logic.

Max Minghella, who plays Thomas, is also a problem for the film. Maybe he was miscast or maybe it was the writing, (or maybe he's just a bad actor, I haven't seen any of his other film to definitively say) but Minghella easily delivers the worst performance in this film. He severely lacks the charisma, wit, and screen presence for this character. Instead, we have someone who looks out of place, like if he's otherworldly. I don't know, but I cringed and chuckled at least twice when he delivered his dialogue. JJ Feild, on the other hand, was really good -- a very creepy and ominous yet subtle performance.

The film is shot competently enough, it looks good. As a big fan of music in film, I disliked this soundtrack. Much like Max Minghella, it sounds out place for a thriller. It didn't bother me enough to take me out of the zone, but I obviously noticed. Director Joe Johnston does well in crafting the suspense and keeping the film on its feet; thanks to Johnston, this is a very fast paced thriller with solid entertainment value - his direction makes the flaws a bit more tolerable.

Overall, Not Safe For Work is a good film. I know I bashed it a lot throughout this review, but I did ultimately enjoy the film. The story has some kinks and holes, the lead is a dud, and the music was mediocre. On the other hand, the suspense was effective, the story was interesting enough to keep my
attention, and the supporting cast was strong. If you need to kill an hour and ten minutes, this is a solid thriller.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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