a critiQal film review Frailty (2002)

Plot: FBI Agent Doyle (Booth) is at a loss investigating the Gods Hand Killer - a mass murderer that is running rampant through his town. At a loss, that is, until an unexpected visitor named Meeks (McConaughy) shows up in his office and announces he knows who the killer is.

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  • ...an engaging thriller from Director Bill Paxton.

I’d seen the trailer for Frailty a while ago, and thought it looked decent. I’d forgotten about it for the most part until I was in the video store the other day, and happened to notice the movie. I figured I might as well check it out, so I rented it.

The characters are all very well acted. Matthew McConaughy was a big surprise to me. I knew he could act after seeing A Time To Kill, but wasn’t sure if he would. He seems to go into most of his films trying to act as little as possible, and it’s a bit annoying. But, when he has to, he does turn in a good performance.

Bill Paxton also did a wonderful job as the father of the Meeks’ boys. The viewer knows he believes, and how much it pains him by his every action.

Powers Boothe, who has to have the coolest name in acting, also did a good job, although his part was a bit more limited.

The plot was involving from the start. A man walks into the FBI, and says he knows who a mass murderer is, ala Se7en (1995) or The Usual Suspects (1995). That’s always an attention grabber from the get-go. When Meeks starts relating his tale of his unusual childhood, the tale becomes even more gripping.

Throw in that his father believed God had spoken to him, and told him to destroy demons (who look just like human beings), and the tale turns deadly…and yet the viewer won’t be able to turn away. All the way up to the stunning conclusion, this film has you in it’s grasp and doesn’t let go.

The special effects were well done. Everything from the lighting (mostly dark) to the sound (a little bit eerie, but a little bit sad) to the camera angles and blood effects, are all done very well. The killings (when they happen) are also done well. They don’t show too much, in fact they don’t show a lot at all, but they leave most of it up to the viewer’s imagination (usually a good strategy – after all, what could be worse then what we can imagine is happening?), similar to the famous ear scene from Reservoir Dogs (1992).

Frailty takes a good idea, and turns it into an excellent film. With good performances by all, including the young boys, good effects and editing, and a well thought out plot, Frailty is a must rent.

Unfortunately, I’m not so sure this could stand up to repeated viewing’s. Most suspense thrillers these days do not. The Sixth Sense (1999) is the last suspense thriller I know that did.

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