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Film Three Stars
As soon as I saw the trailer and read the Edinburgh International Film Festival write up for the film Brake I was pretty sure that it and Buried shared a great deal in common. I was also surprised that Stephen Dorff led the film and, not to be cruel to Dorff, that suggested the film wasn't going to be as good as Buried, mind you throughout his career he has delivered good performances and appeared in some big films, and one of his co-stars here was Tom Berenger.

Some comments had stronger things to say about the film, and so I thought I would give it a go after all Buried was excellent and the premise of Brake took this on the road as well as promising to deliver something a little more and a little different.

Plot.pngBrake.jpgA Secret Service agent wakes up in the boot (trunk) of a car. Held captive and physically and mentally tortured he is pressed to reveal information that would threaten the security of the United States, particularly of the President. As he resists revealing the information so the pressure on him grows and the terrorists' plans become more complex to the point where his and the life of others are in imminent danger.

TheFilm.pngI don't really want to reveal much more than I have done in the plot above, a plot that I wrote myself rather than providing you with the standard one you'll find going along with the film because it in itself reveals far too much. Speaking of which I have to warn you against watching the trailer for it also gives away far, far too much.

In the run up to seeing this film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival I was unlucky enough to watch the trailer but at the same time seeing the reveal also made me want to see the film even more because I saw something more of the plot.

Talking to others who were going to see it they were also hung up on the huge similarities to the excellent Buried and the talk was how surprisingly good that film was as well as the surprisingly good performance that Ryan Reynolds delivered and the hope was that this film would do something similar for Stephen Dorff as well as for the films itself. Yet everyone had the same concern, that it looked awfully similar to Buried with just one small difference in the premise, was it just going to turn out to be a clone?

After seeing the reveal in the trailer I knew that there were going to be some differences, differences that were more than just a quick turn to the existing plot. Sure the similarities to Buried are huge in Brake and even some moments seem to be directly taken from the original story and you can't blame someone for thinking that way, but scratch beneath the surface and there are a lot of additions that make this a wider reaching story.

Brake does a really good job of turning the plot away from the expected Buried clone and sets about building a different path quite early on. Before long you are caught in the Brake story and not the Buried one.

It wasn't long before I realised how well I'd been won over even by the strong performance of Dorff who was almost as convincing as Reynolds was. He really sells the confusion and fear of his character. At times he does seem to slip a little but I can't be certain if that was his performance, the script or direction, whatever it was he wasn't quite as powerful and convincing as Reynolds was and remained throughout Buried.

The story of Brake was built well with new twists arriving to deepen and evolve the story a number of times throughout the film. The use of sound helped to make you believe in what was happening and pull you inside the boot and into the main character's world. The fact that we get to see glimpses of the outside world from his viewpoint makes the reality of the story so much more. I also liked the aspect of the mobile phone contact and the fact that our lead uses it to talk to multiple characters expanding the story more, broadening it from the small confines and the single individual and layering on the pressure for the audience.

Some of the layers of added complexity to the story and the new threads are rather cleverly thought through and added to the story build on the tension and the outside pressures very well. These threads set the story apart and perhaps above Buried at times, although the simplicity and single performance of that film are fantastic.

I did wonder about a few sequences though, doubting the water torture scene with the hole in the box, but really it was the ending that bungled it all for me and the closing revelations are rather mishandled. We get far too much explanation of everything and it does begin to push the reality further than anything that the story delivered so far, in fact it pushes it beyond the believability of the main character considering what he had just fought for.

Except even though the ending does head into over-explanation and perhaps blows the hard work that the rest of the film has done to this point it still manages to keep a nice surprise in hand.

Overall.pngBrake starts off a clone of Buried but quickly and effectively finds its own path and builds on the idea of being enclosed and contained under the control of outside influences. The ideas are clever and there are nice twists and thread additions to the story which keep you engaged and build the tension well.

The ending does come with a few big let downs that do rather a big injustice to the earlier film, yet ultimately it doesn't totally cave and pamper to the audience.

Dorff is very good although it's hard not to compare him to Ryan Reynolds in Buried, he is convincing and gives a strong performance for most of the film.

Brake is a good film that you will enjoy but comes with some flaws at the end which you might just find irritating and may even spoil the enjoyment you have received from the rest of it. Still, it's worth the chance.

More on Edinburgh International Film Festival 2012 on Filmstalker
More on other Festivals on Filmstalker
Edinburgh International Film Festival Official Site
UK IMDB Film Details



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