Lionsgate // 2008 // 82 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 11th, 2009
Welcome to the neighborhood.
Now run for your @#$#@@%%$@# life.
Weapons is told in an out of order, non-chronological narrative style, spotlighting several characters as their lives intersect during one tragic day, leaving someone dead by a gunshot wound. How did their respective circumstances lead them to this moment? All will be told and there's a good chance when the movie ends you'll be installing an unbreakable deadbolt on your teenage kid's bedroom door.
You know what Weapons reminded me of: Kids. Young people doing bad things, suffering consequences, swearing a lot, branching storylines. And it left me with the same depressed feeling.
I'm not entirely sure what writer/director Adam Bhala Lough is trying to tell me with this. That some teenagers party hard, get each other pregnant, and fire off guns like it's the Wild West? That all teenagers are capable of this? That -- and this taken from the synopsis on the back of the case -- what goes down here happens in a "typical American town." I won't dispute that, but Weapons is such a supremely nihilistic, relentlessly bleak affair, stocked entirely with unsympathetic characters. The payoff is simply not worth it. It's a mild twist that you should see coming and, as far as I can tell, a lingering sense of despair.
Maybe this is your thing, watching these kinds of gritty, "realistic" black holes of melancholy and misguided youth. If so, Weapons will knock your socks off. The cast, headlined by Nick Cannon, Paul Dano and Mark Weber, turn in solid performances. They're unlikable to their marrow, but it's not the actors' fault -- their characters are punks. The tragedy they're trapped in is told well and though the final revelation lacks firepower, Lough has a great command of piecing together disjointed storytelling. He also has a good ear for soundtracks; the Weapons score is flat-out haunting and augments the bleakness of the film.
So what do we have, then? A well-made, well-acted movie about really bad kids doing really bad things, existing in a loveless, empty world, with no redemptive elements at all. It doesn't appeal to my taste and while I can objectively laud the filmmaking, the simple truth is that Weapons is the digital equivalent of a post-apocalyptic wasteland -- gritty, barren, harsh and inhabited by people who like to hurt each other and that's it. For me, that's not enough.
The DVD is sparse, its technical merits the high point. The film receives a clean 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, supported by a 5.1 surround mix. No extras save for previews.
I just don't see the point...which is probably the point.
Pass that bottle of arsenic. And get me a straw.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated