Take a Drink: when a character repeats dialogue
Take a Drink: whenever Archival footage is implemented SEAMLESSLY
Take a Drink: for every computer hacking scene
Drink a Shot: for footage of the Las Vegas Strip
Take a Drink: whenever Neil Breen explains his skills/talents
By: Almond Black (A Toast) –
Director/Writer/Producer Neil Breen plays himself as a super-intelligent cyber hacker, spy, and assassin who turns against the country that trained him when they assassinate the love of his life. Breen concocts a plot to take down Las Vegas via a deadly anthrax attack, using his skills at hacking any system and controlling satellites. While executing his plan, Breen begins to realize the impact of his actions and soon is forced to re-evaluate those actions.
For those who have not yet breathed the air of sweet release that is a Neil Breen film, allow me to provide some background. Breen is a Las Vegas-area Architect who for the last decade has self-financed several independent film projects, in all of which he writes, directs, and stars in. Double Down was the first film to be released, and right from the beginning Breen defined his unique style and approach to filmmaking.
Nominally an action-thriller, Double Down transcends genre tropes entirely, by focusing on the psychological trauma of his character’s actions. With every step that Breen takes towards completing his mission of revenge, his mental stability begins to break down. Breen has been wronged by the government that employed him. Moreover, humanity has wronged the world he lives in, which the filmmaker examines through a series of dream-like soliloquies.
Breen and his supporting cast appear at times to be stumbling awkwardly through their lines without any understanding or guidance behind their meaning. In examining the performances in the film, it is important to note the heavy influence of Werner Herzog’s Heart of Glass, which featured an entire cast placed under hypnosis.
The result of which was an inhuman approach to line readings which imbued the film with a deeply disturbing tone. Breen and his supporting cast seem under a similar spell, as their dialogue is spoken entirely in monotones. This creative decision may seem brave for a first time filmmaker, but Breen manages the difficult balance with aplomb.
Double Down is shot on location in the sprawling and arid deserts of Nevada, contrasted harshly with the indulgences of the Las Vegas strip. Rather than treat the city as an oasis, Bren uses this opportunity to comment on the Bourgeois mythos of this urban center, and the excessive resources which go into feeding it. These visual references paint a stunning portrait of chaos and corruption that is eating away the simple beauty of the natural landscapes of America. Ultimately the film is about forgiveness and rising above the torment of personal tragedy.
Double Down is an uncannily spiritual experience of an action film. A singular vision which simply cannot be duplicated by another filmmaker.