Take a Drink: for each new link opened
Take a Drink: anytime Elijah Wood’s character is concerned
Do a Shot: for each plot twist
Do a Shot: during the opening “movie” trailer
By: Matt Conway (Three Beers) –
Watching the growth of Elijah Wood’s career has been certainly an interesting journey to say the least. Wood is most known for breaking onto the scene with his lead role as Frodo in the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy, which still today is looked at as one of the great cinematic achievements, earning both critical acclaim and staggering box office success. With the series ending, though, many expected most of the actors involved to kind of fail to stay relevant.
Wood, however, has been able to build up a rather successful career post-Lord of the Rings. His role on the highly underrated TV show Wilfred has been a joy to watch, and Wood has also been able to star in a few seriously underrated genre films like Grand Piano and the remake of Maniac. Wood’s latest is another genre thriller titled Open Windows, and while it does not do anything particularly new as thrillers go, it’s a solid, fun ride.
Open Windows follows Nick, who is in town after wining a dinner date with Jill, a famous actress. After being told that the event was cancelled, a man named Chord begins to help him by hacking into Jill’s personal computer. Soon, Nick finds himself in a deadly game ran by a man who may not be what he seems.
Elijah Wood has been able to make a career in genre films for a reason. To me, he makes for a near-perfect protagonist in this type of film, as he is always likable and is believable as the everyman who just continues to get fucked with by someone. He is a master in a way of playing the Nervous Nellie type in these flicks, but is able to show some versatility as the film goes on with his character at a point reaching his limits.
The other performances are also quite good. Sasha Grey has surprisingly made a good transition from porn start to movie star, and does a good job as the heroine in the film. She is not breaking any new ground here, but is convincing in her role. Character actor Neil Maskell is the menacing voice of the mysterious Chord, and is quite intimidating in his role, as his voice and his calm nature give a very spooky vibe. Other supporting players Ivan Gonzalez and Adam Quintero also do a good job in their small roles.
Open Windows really is a project that lets genre director Nacho Vigalondo run wild. Vigalondo, who is best known for directing and writing the highly underrated thriller Timecrimes, has shown in his quick career an eye for style and a lot of creativity. In Open Windows, Vigalondo really shows off his creativity, with a lot of inventive shots. The film is essentially filmed through a computer screen, which allows for a lot of action to occur at once in the same scene.
Vigalondo also shows a lot of creativity in his script. The premise itself is a quite inventive one, and the script really takes advantage of it. The story takes a lot of interesting twist and turns throughout, while also having a few subtitle jabs at culture and the way society uses technology. However, the script does have its share of issues.
While a lot of the twists throughout the film are quite interesting, the third act in general gets a bit too twist-happy. The final ten to fifteen minutes feature a bit too many twist and turns, with characters changing within a blink of an eye. This makes a lot of the final moments a muddled, as there is just far too much going on as far as twists go for any of them to feel very coherent.
Open Windows also has some pacing issues. The film is about 100 minutes long, which feels a good 10-20 minutes too long. There are quite a few stretches in the film which feel quite lackluster compared to the rest of the film. This is especially the case in the first act of the film, as there are a bit too many expository scenes used to get the film started up. The film generally could have been just a bit tighter as a whole.
Despite featuring a lot of interesting stylistic choices and even some inventive moments, Open Windows can’t escape the feeling of being just an ordinary cyber thriller. I am not saying it’s a generic film per say, but a lot of what is done here feels very much familiar of other recent thrillers, just with the addition of computers.
Open Windows claims to be the computer generation’s Rear Window, and while it does not quite reach that hype, it’s an engaging and enjoyable thriller overall . Director Nacho Vigalondo continues to be a director to watch, and I am very happy that Elijah Wood continues to have a successful career.