Review: “The Shadow Effect”
As I watched the trailer for this movie, I was intrigued. Not only did the premise look exciting but Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays a part in it. He is an excellent actor, which made me even more curious about the film. After watching it, I am terribly disappointed and have to think that all the best parts of the movie were used in the trailer.
The premise of the film is that a young man, Gabriel Howarth (Cam Gigandet) is struggling with violent dreams of murder and assassinations, dreams so real that they are bleeding over into his waking life. His wife, Brinn (Britt Shaw) is so concerned about him that she insists he see a psychiatrist Reese (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). The psychiatrist gives him medicine and insists he just needs sleep. But Gabriel continues to dream, remembering more and more details each time he wakes up. Soon, he realizes he’s being watched by the sheriff of his town, Sheriff Hodge (Michael Biehn) and begins to realize he cannot trust anyone. Soon he discovers that nothing he knows is real and that his dreams are reality as he is being sent as a weapon to murder people as part of a plot by a group of shadowy puppet masters.
As I said, I wasn’t terribly impressed. The basic idea is interesting. Gabriel’s memories are affected by his shadows, the dreams of other lives that he has and each time he dies in a dream, he remembers more and more. I was expecting something more original, like he was dreaming about someone else, maybe someone who he was linked to but who was murdering the people instead of Gabriel. Sadly, this was not the case and the idea they went with is one that has been done before. I won’t spoil it, just in case anyone does want to see it but it is not terribly original nor was it well done.
Honestly, the major sin is that I was bored. I could predict everything that happened in this movie well before it happened. The story did not leave me excited after the first few minutes and the acting was flat. Some of the action worked but overall, anytime we were shown any emotion it didn’t read as real. There is an attempt at suspense but since again, I was able to predict the actions of the characters and the plot points, the suspense didn’t work. There was also an attempt at a romance between Brinn and Gabriel but the two had very little chemistry which means it failed to convey any attachment between the two. Given that Brinn turns out to not be who Gabriel thinks she is, this actually could have worked if they’d later had more emotion between the pair but it never really gels for me. The pair don’t seem to really ever care about each other even as Brinn is trying to rescue Gabriel.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers gets some of the better scenes. He is somewhat convincing as the scientist in charge of what Gabriel is experiencing but he is easily spotted from the beginning. His acting is not as great as it normally is and I can only say that it most likely is due to the script or the directing or sadly both. And because you figure out who he is easily, Gabriel’s discovery later is anticlimactic. I also was far more interested in the mystery of his background than Gabriel’s. Michael Biehn is somewhat convincing as Sheriff Hodges. I can buy that he was part of the group manipulating Gabriel and his performance is more vivid than others in the film. He was sinister and creepy which worked in the movie.
The action was probably the best part of the film. Despite some inconsistencies, the sequences worked the best of anything in the film and I enjoyed figuring out what would happen in the fight between Gabriel and his target. If they’d focused more on the mystery of why the assassinations were happening or used a more original method for the murders, I think I would have enjoyed it much more because the fights worked.
Ultimately, the writers want us to be excited by the suspense of the shadow group and the mystery of what’s happening to Gabriel but they give so many clues to what’s happening that the mystery never works. The chemistry and acting leave the film feeling flat and very few of the performances worked for me. If you like interesting fight sequences or don’t mind a predictable plot, you might try it, if only for Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Michael Biehn. They might be the only part other than the fight sequences that are interesting.
Rating: 2 stars