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 an audience.

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.


 


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