Review: The Loft
PLOT: Five married men all share a high rent loft for their extra-marital activities. When one of them discovers a woman has been murdered in their hideaway, suspicion arises with each of the men questioning who may be responsible.
In the remake of director Erik Van Looy’s 2008 Belgium mystery LOFT, the filmmaker returns with a mostly new cast for the English speaking version appropriately titled THE LOFT. Having not yet taken in the original, I am unaware how similar the two films are. However, after watching this cynical and dreary thriller, there is zero appetite to see if there is anything redeeming in it. Featuring a cast of characters that range from despicable to disturbed to just plain sleazy, it's frustrating to watch a mystery unfold around them and not give one iota about the outcome. The men are cheaters and the women are props, leaving nothing to establish or build any real suspense in any way. Do we care about the dead girl in the bed? Not really. And, sadly, it's even more difficult to feel much of anything for anybody else involved in this mess.
This superficially stylish film begins with a literal smash. Something (or someone) falls from a building onto a very expensive car. We soon discover there has been a murder of a pretty blonde who was left in a fancy loft that five friends share for extramarital fun. The men include Vincent (Karl Urban), Chris (James Marsden), Luke (Wentworth Miller), Marty (Eric Stonestreet) and Phillip (Matthias Schoenaerts, who appears in both this and the original). This group of best pals decide to share an expensive loft so that there will be no credit card receipts or motel bills when they want to screw around on their significant others. Yet somebody may be in on their dirty little secret. Or perhaps one of them has something to hide. Either way, it was hard to feel much more than boredom - and slight disgust - for any of it.
It really is a shame to see talented actors doing such a mind numbing and dull feature. It is especially bad for the women, including the lovely Rhona Mitra who is given very little to do other than look miserable. If only she could have taken care of these morons the way she dealt with Lycans in UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS. I guarantee it would have been better than this.The only actress able to offer a little heart is the very beautiful Rachael Taylor. Even if her dialogue is miserably bad. Of course it's another thankless role requiring her to develop an unconvincing romance with James Marsden. Isabel Lucas, as one of Vincent’s conquests, gives one of the film’s weakest performances. While pretty, she is unable to bring this poorly written character to life in any way, shape or form. This is a huge problem as much of the film revolves around her.
As far as the men are concerned, they really don’t fare much better than the ladies. Urban, who is usually quite good, has absolutely nothing to work with. And “Modern Family” star Eric Stonestreet is horribly miscast. Every single time his character talks about huge breasts or screwing around, he seems to be a bit embarrassed by what he had to say. Frankly who could blame him? You have to give a little credit to Schoenaerts who just delves into the coke fiend of a man that Phillip is. Stupid and pathetic? Absolutely. But at least he reveled in it a bit. As the only two not totally horrid characters, both Marsden and Miller are as marginally good as they possibly could be. Although when it comes to one pivotal scene, it is impossible to take either of them seriously thanks to a silly plot point. Most of the cast here is capable, yet the script and the director make it very difficult.
If there is one thing that can be said about the film, there is a definite style that the film's director brings to the proceedings. Yet it is a style that seems to be borrowed from other filmmakers, with nothing really clever or original. Irritatingly, there seems to be the need to punctuate every plot point so the audience “gets it.” One scene where it becomes clear that the wives may actually be aware of their cheating men has the subtlety of a sledgehammer against metal. While the mystery unfolds to reveal what really happened, leaving the final scene a bit of a surprise, the fact that it's impossible to care at all makes it a mute point.
THE LOFT is devoid of any real suspense or smarts. The characters defy logic with insipid dialogue and asinine choices. As well, they are just all awful people so waiting to see what happens to them is near painful. And let’s be clear, you can certainly create morally bankrupt characters in film that are fascinating. That is simply not the case here. Occasionally, you could watch a movie like this at home and get some enjoyment out of it, but this is a waste of time and energy for all involved, including the viewer. It wastes a decent cast and forces audiences to spend time with hateful people that spout bad dialogue. Shot in the summer of 2011, the only suspense I felt was the continued question of why this didn’t go straight to VOD.
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