Vivendi Visual Entertainment // 2013 // 96 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // July 9th, 2013
An unthinkable crime. An unlikely hero. A boring movie.
A young girl named Few (Tione Johnson, Bending the Rules) walks the streets of New Orleans. Her self-appointed motto is "Cause no more pain." This is especially prophetic to the individuals -- and their stories -- that she encounters during her journey. One young man (Devon Gearhart, Funny Games) is desperate to get some medicine for this baby brother and considers robbing the clerk (Moon Bloodgood, The Sessions) of a convenience store. A pair of government agents (Christian Slater, Heathers and Nicky Whelan, Hall Pass) hunt for a terrorist. A delivery girl (Q'orianka Kilcher, The New World) befriends a man (Jesse Bradford, Flags of Our Fathers) escaping from a local hood (Anthony Anderson, Transformers) while a derelict (Christopher Walken, True Romance) waxes philosophical with anyone who will listen, especially his little person pal (Jordan Prentice, Mirror Mirror). Over the next 20 minutes, their lives all converge in an unexpected act of violence while Larry King is discussing a missing religious artifact. No, really.
Welcome to the first wholly focus grouped film. From the beginning of its production, The Power of Few considered itself "interactive" with its proposed indie audience, offering early visitors to its website a chance to chime in on casting, storyline, even editing. The result is a jumbled mess that reeks of way too many cooks, destroying the notion of an auteur by arguing that the viewer has a better bead on how to make a successful film. Boy, is that ever a dumb idea. And wrong. Granted, the studios play Charades with their comment cards all the time, attempting to parse out possible profits from tweaking a performance, adding some reshoots, or scrapping a star all together (ala the late James Gandolfini in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). In this case, The Power of Few finds no solace in its creativity by committee. Instead, it struggles to make sense, using its nonlinear storyline as the most destructive artistic "asset" possible.
Much of the problem rests with said narrative. It's jumbled, jumping around in time and space and hoping that you can clue in on the possible connections between the often dispirit plots. Imagine Cloud Atlas making even less sense, or Pulp Fiction measured out in conflicting crap sequences instead of a weird reverse order. You can tell that writer/director Leone Marruci is indebted to Tarantino and his famed 1994 movie, but while the ex-video store clerk turned Oscar winner has panache and pop culture riffing in abundance, this feature film novice can't begin to match his motion picture influence. Sure, the actors all appear ripe to play a part in some heady homage (can't beat Christopher Walken arguing over the Shroud of Turin), but there's no style or heft. Marruci's script is whisper thin, attempting too much while delivering a similar amount of superficiality. We don't really come to care about his characters. Instead, we watch the corners of the screen to see where they will turn up next.
Marruci can handle the occasional crime elements, but everything else in his grasp falls flat. He's got no idea how to make his more "unusual" elements work within his otherwise everyday designs, and when he relies on his actors to sell this silliness, they frequently let him down. The end result is a bargain basement embarrassment otherwise lifted by its weird, "what's next" vibe. We are inherently curious where this crazy car Crash of a movie will take us, even if some of the material is obvious in its direction. Had someone with a singular vision stepped up and steered the film, outside input be damned, maybe we could argue ambition or aesthetic. Once we learn that much of The Power of Few centers on Joe Average's (or Willy Wannabe's) concept of what a movie should be, we understand why things are so scattered. Sometimes, audience participation is a good thing. In this case, it kills whatever potential this film had.
As for the Blu-ray release from Vivendi Entertainment, you couldn't ask for a better home video release. The 1.85:1 image is colorful, capturing the New Orleans setting with definitive detail. There are even a few flashes of directorial flare that come across in vivid fashion. On the sound side of things, the lossless DTS-MA 5.1 mix offers some speaker work, especially in the street scenes. We also get easy to understand dialogue and an intriguing score by Michael Simpson. As for added content, there's a compelling making-of, an equally insightful community outreach featurette (Marruci hit the Big Easy and instantly started hiring out of work locals to function as part of the cast and crew), along with a deleted scene and interviews with Walken, Slater, Anderson, and Juvenile. There is also a trailer. The Behind the Scenes material shed light on the whole interactive element of the production, and everyone here appears gung-ho to support what The Power of Few wants to accomplish. Unfortunately, it doesn't live up to its own, or the viewers, expectation.
Guilty. Tough going most of the time.
Review content copyright © 2013 Bill Gibron; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Vivendi Visual Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scene