Directed by Bill Paxton.
Written by Brent Hanley.
Starring Bill Paxton and Matthew McConaughey.
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 4/15/02
In the commercial for "Frailty", James
Cameron, Sam Raimi, Stephen King and others hailed the film as one
of the best films they had ever seen. So, right off the bat, you
know the film doesn't suck. See, the strongest thing you can ever
use to promote a film is the praise of other respected individuals
in the given industry; if this movie scared King, the scare-meistro,
then you KNOW that thing must be at least a tad bit disturbing.
This type of marketing is more popular in the literary realm, but
it is used to strong effect for select movies as well.
After seeing it, I must say that "Frailty"
is pretty good stuff. Bill Paxton--yes, BILL PAXTON--directed this
film. For my money, Paxton's greatest film moment was his
performance as Private Hudson in "Aliens", with the line that my dad
and I, even to this day, still joke about: "It's game over,
man...game over!!" He's been in over 50 films, but this is the
first time he has directed and the man shows some deft touch in his
Paxton stars as the father (his actual
screen credit is "Dad") of two boys in Texas during the late 70s and
Dad has a vision one night while lying in bed: his mission is not
only to provide for his two sons in the wake of the family
matriarch's death, but also to kill demons that are roaming the
Texan countryside. What makes this tough is that these demons
reside in the physical being of humans, regular folk that have
committed sins that God no longer wants on our earth. So, with the
help of three "magical weapons" (which turn out to be just an axe,
two gloves and a lead pipe), Dad and the boys--Fenton and Adam--must
wait for this angel to deliver them a list of who these demons are,
round them up, and destroy them.
All of this business is relayed to us in the
present day by Fenton (played by Matthew "I Used to Have Promise"
McConaughey), who as the film opens shows up at the Dallas FBI
Headquarters to confess to an agent (Powers Boothe). Since the film
is told mostly in flashback, this leads to somewhat of a surprise in
the film's final moments.
But, getting to that point is made
interesting mostly because of the performance delivered by Paxton.
Rarely does one match the terms "incredible acting" and "Bill
Paxton", but here, he's in his element because of how much he made
me believe that Dad is just a regular, good father that happens to
have a vision. Not quite a psychopath, not quite a religious
zealot, Dad's convictions lie in his faith in God and as such, he
never goes over the deep end...at least, in his mind. So, as he
tries to convince his children that they are doing the right thing,
or when he tries to get his son Adam to go to bed on time or brush
his teeth, or when he has to wield his axe to slaughter more of
these supposed demons, nothing seems too out of the ordinary for
him. His children are understandably skeptical of this
mission--especially Fenton (played in the youth sequences by Matthew
O'Leary), who doesn't buy this vision BS for a second.
The film's dark story is matched by dark
cinematography and some twisted visions; even the daytime scenes are
tense and uneasy. And, it is rare in these horror films for
directors to not fall in love with lots of blood or gore; I enjoyed
the scenes when Dad rears back with his menacing axe and letting the
sounds create the vision, not the pictures. I was more scared by
the sound of an axe hitting someone in the chest than actually
seeing it, and this is effective all throughout "Frailty." And, as
is also rare in Hollywood releases these days, "Frailty" actually
has a pretty good ending that leaves for a few more questions about
what you just saw.
I would categorize this as a pleasant
surprise, but don't you dare take someone to this movie that gets
frightened easily; you'll regret doing that later. Paxton is great
and some story weaves make for an interesting experience.
Rating: $9.00 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard