125 min - Action | Crime | Drama
Review: Matt Mungle
Gritty crime dramas are always an easy sell. There have been
countless films and TV series built on and around that popular
genre. In the new film A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, written and directed
by J.C. Chandor, the opportunity to offer up an amazing film is
grandly missed. All the ingredients are there but sadly the movie
fails to deliver anything new and/or intriguing.
Statistics show that 1981 was the most violent year on record
for New York city. That is the true backdrop for this fictional
story. In it Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) runs a lucrative oil and
gas business with his wife Anna (Jessica Chastain). Abel is a
soft spoken but focused business man. He lives by his own motto
os "there is always a more right decision" meaning both
options might seem wrong but in them there is one that is more
right. He is battling several enemies from the DA who is convinced
there are shady deals going on, to the thugs who keep hijacking
his oil tankers. It doesn't help that Anna has a hard time shaking
her mob tied family.
The issue with this film is that it doesn't live up to its name.
Not that there needs to be frame after frame of gratuitous savagery
but the tension and drama the title evokes must come across through
the players and the script. The viewer is ready to buckle up for
a raw 1980's crime drama. Instead it is more like a leisurely
Sunday drive through the streets of Manhattan. Isaac's demeanor
may have a bit to do with it. His acting is on par with what you
would expect from Oscar. But the uneventful script needs more
of an impacted delivery. Also the early 80's has a look and style
all its own. This wasn't utilized to the extent that those who
lived through it remember.
Possibly it tried to be too much of a throwback crime drama with
the music swells and camera shots panning over a character standing
in a vacant lot. The film isn't totally void of drama or action.
And when it shows up it does a fine job. But those times are too
few and too far apart. If this were celebrity apprentice the blame
would fall completely on the director. I am sure his cast did
exactly what was asked of them. Again maybe it was the lackluster
script. Regardless, this film just in no way came close to captivating
A MOST VIOLENT YEAR is rated R for language and some violence.
Even the rating seems boring. I give this 2 out of 5 smash and
grabs. Very disappointing film given the premise it had to work
off of and the actors brought in to bring it to life. A Most Violent
Year is in reality a most boring two hours.