Elevator Movie Review
Written by Karin Crighton
DVD released by Inception Media Group
Directed by Stig Svendsen
Written by Marc Rosenberg
2011, 84 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on August 21st, 2012
Joey Slotnick as George Axelrod
Anita Briem as Celine Fouquet
Devlin Ratray as Martin Gossling
The IMDB tagline for Elevator ends with the quote “They will do anything to survive.” That statement is grossly inaccurate, which is odd for a movie about nine people trapped in an elevator with a bomb.
First, you need to know Elevator is not a horror movie. I think I would classify it as a thriller, but even then I’m not sure that really covers it. There’s plenty of fear, I’ll give you that, but not horror. The fear element comes from the unknown nature of the explosive device an embittered stock investor (played by Shirley Knight — yes, Shirley Knight!) has carried onto an elevator car at the headquarters of investment firm Barton Enterprises on the night of a big company party. The trouble starts when the elevator gets jammed on the way up and we learn the bomb has an irreversible two-hour detonation deadline. It’s like Speed if the bus was stuck 49 stories in the air and couldn’t move.
Speed works; Elevator doesn’t. Pardon the broken elevator pun.
Speed works mainly because of its, well, speed. The pacing ebbs and flows just like the traffic through which the bus weaves. There are long stretches of highway where we explore character development and short bursts of high energy where a problem gets fixed with teamwork and you realize you care about everyone on screen. And you’ve got the affable humor of young Sandra Bullock and Jeff Daniels and the hilarity of Keanu Reeve’s acting. Despite its campy plot, it’s very effective and the increasingly chaotic action sweeps you up in the moment.
Elevator stops and stays there. There’s no natural rhythm to an elevator that isn’t elevating, and while Agatha Christie can make a broken locomotive enthralling in Murder on the Orient Express, Marc Rosenberg’s writing can’t compare to Ms. Christie. The trapped passengers bumble around the car, bored and listless as the viewer. They come up with various ideas of how to reach help, try to get to another floor, remove the bomb, but nothing with the sort of urgency you’d expect from people convinced that action equals life and inaction equals a rather unpleasant death.
I think I’d have cared more about this movie if the characters revealed more of their internal motives or if the connections between them had been more complicated. The only big reveal was that the gorgeous pregnant trader Celine (confusingly on maternity leave when the belly fitted on actress Anita Briem suggests only five months’ gestation) is carrying the handsome-and-engaged-to-the-glamorous-reporter’s baby. With the reporter trapped in the elevator too. Awkward! But there was plenty more opportunity to put this all together in a fascinating Poirot-esque sort of way. Why didn’t the army-medic-cum-security-guard know the bomber’s son? They could have been in the same army unit, or possibly opposing sides. Why didn’t the hero Martin, played by the talented and scene-stealing Devlin Ratray, have any knowledge about Celine’s baby’s paternity or opinion thereof? Why not have the reporter (Themina Sunny) work on assignment in the Middle East and know both the medic and bomber’s son? The comedian (Joey Slotnick, who ably transports his character from disagreeable to genuinely likable) is the perfect point of view as a last-minute replacement for the party’s suddenly sick headliner; he’s the only outsider and as his career is based on observing and commenting on society — even if he’s not a very funny comic — he could have been an interesting take on a modern day Hercule Poirot.
I know it seems like I have nothing good to say, but this film isn’t unsalvageable. The performances are solid even if the characters are uninspired save Ratray’s Martin, of course. The cinematography by Alain Betrancourt is artful and I was entirely impressed by how the music of Herman Christoffersen and Bjornar Johnsen set a tense mood from the onset. My complaints stem from frustration that this movie is only mediocre when it had the potential to be something great. Instead, it seems to be a bastion of missed opportunity, and knowing that I just can’t see a point to this movie. Even with Martin’s unplanned death, which I can’t bring myself to label a true sacrifice, there’s no clear message other than if your 10-year-old granddaughter is a total brat don’t let her push elevator buttons.
Point being, if I’m wondering in Miley Cyrus has posted pictures of her new haircut on Twitter on the middle of your movie; it’s probably not that interesting.
And she did. It’s cute.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.