Granted, it’s strange to start a review with a list of complaints, but with the new thriller “Every Breath You Take,” directed by Vaughn stone, written by David Murray, and play the main role Casey Affleckjust ask for it. Similar to the way Affleck’s psychiatrist character treats his patients, it is appropriate to address the obvious problems with this film in a number of bullet points:
- From a technical point of view, the film is under-lit and over-edited.
- Horrible characters with no backstory or development who ultimately border on cartoons and often cry and stare out the windows.
- A premise reminiscent of a Lifetime Movie of the Week and expanded into a script supposedly written by combining genre tropes and clichés.
- Last but not least, Michelle Monaghan is unfortunately underutilized.
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While this is far from an exhaustive list of topics, these are the issues that stand out most when watching Stein’s red psychological thriller.
“Every Breath You Take” plays Affleck as Phillip, a psychiatrist who jumps down his patient’s problems, similar to the list above. His methods are a bit unconventional and share his personal struggles with a patient, Daphne (Emily Aly Lynd) who is suicidal and on the verge of breakthrough. When she is found dead, her brother James (Sam Claflin), appears at Phillip’s. James is the son of a famous author and the man responsible for selling Daphne’s estate. At least he stays here for dinner, where he meets Philip’s wife Grace (Monoghan) and daughter Lucy (India Easley) and cast flirtatious glances across the table. His blue smile and white eyes bewitch him and it doesn’t take long before he shows up at Lucy’s school and Grace’s property demonstrations and secretly seduces both of them.
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Although the twists and turns are rather bland, the cast sets the material apart with a number of solid performances. Affleck, in particular, is in full-blown Oscar mode, doing his sincere best to save Stein’s feature film. Affleck gives everything he can and delivers an increasingly baffled performance against Clafin, who is terrifyingly confident. The same goes for Monoghan, who previously worked with Affleck on the crime drama “Gone Baby Gone” and has shown in a variety of projects that she is more than capable of delivering a breathtaking performance. Unfortunately, she fails for much of the movie and almost doesn’t have enough to work with.
Quality actors who do their best can only take a movie so far if they have a pretty fancy premise that depends almost entirely on character motivations that are never fully explained. Why is James doing this to Phillip? And why isn’t Phillip doing anything about it? Audiences are being asked to join in on these matters so that we can eventually get to a mansion, a chase, a couple of murders, a handful of misdirections, and a finale that’s more sparklers than fireworks. Stein expects the movie to come out with a bang, but “Every Breath” bubbles on impact.
The same goes for the big reveal. The twist in “Every Breath You Take,” which arrives in the final act of the film, is not predicted. Necessary information is thrown aside for therapy sessions with Affleck. Though the actors suggest a better outcome, Stein’s thriller is really just a lifetime movie in a tuxedo, and the problems are piling up faster than you – or any therapist – can count. [D-]