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Three wannabe eco-activist decide to blow up a damn without thinking of the possible human consequences.
Review (with Spoilers)
In Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard’s second outing together this year, the first being Very Good Girls, the two of them are some form of eco-terrorists. Not on the level of Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgard in The East, but eco-terrorist just the same. But with the inclusion of Jesse Eisenberg, who has mastered playing pretentious characters, there is the question of whether the film is another shallow depiction of eco-activism? One which seeks to make eco-activist look crazy more so than reveal the reasoning behind some of the more extreme acts they commit to protect the environment.
Characters & Story
Everything begins with two people, a would-be couple named Josh (Jesse Eisenberg) and Dena (Dakota Fanning). They buy a $10k boat and then drive up into the middle of nowhere to meet a friend named Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard). Making for what looks like a normal movie in which a couple heads into the woods to go camping. Truth is, however, Josh and Dena aren’t a couple and their friend Harmon is more so an accomplice. One which is helping them execute a bombing of a dam. Though with one life possibly lost, post-bombing, and Dena talking a bit more than she should, what will the boys do? Go into hiding, shut her up, or will they, in the end, surrender themselves for the guilt of possibly killing a man weighs too heavy? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.
When it comes to praise, really the only thing I liked is when Josh and Dena seemed like a couple. If just because Eisenberg and Fanning look like a believable couple for between Fanning seeming like a deer in the headlights, and a bit spacey, combined with Eisenberg’s sarcasm, somehow they seem like a good match. Unfortunately, though, there time seeming like a couple doesn’t last too long, but is good while it lasts.
One thing I always disliked about movies like these is that usually there isn’t a strong justification for the criminal acts. Also, there almost always seems to be some type of distraction which takes away from the goal of blowing up a dam, oil power plant, or what have you. Most of the time it is some sort of romantic plot which becomes the main focus, other times it is because of cult or hippie elements which make you raise an eyebrow. But for Night Moves specifically, the issue is that these kids, and Harmon, just seem so barely informed about what they are doing.
I mean, think of Harmon, Dena, and Josh like online activist who saw something trending and decided to physically go out there and do something. However, while they seem to actually care enough to physically do something, it seems all their information and reasoning is shallow and not fully thought out in terms of consequences besides jail time. Making it where after the dam is blown up, and someone and their family is affected, the sole interesting part of the film is gone. Of which, sadly we don’t see the explosion. All we get to see, post bombing, is Fanning look like a deer in the headlights while she talks, Eisenberg come off like he has botox injections and is incapable of expressing himself, and Sarsgaard in another movie which he is this odd older guy who for some reason befriends people at least 10-15 years younger than him.
Overall: Skip It
Making for an overall story which doesn’t have much to offer at all. There isn’t a cool strong build to the dam blowing up; there isn’t some type of cute, or interesting, relationship going on between Dena and Josh to maybe take note of; Harmon and the cast don’t hang out and he doesn’t tell us war stories; and watching the cast deal with the weight of their guilt for nearly two hours is really a test of patience. Especially since no one has any type of charisma, no type of personality which hooks you, and there isn’t even a strong reason given which would make you think they were justified in blowing up that dam. Hence the skip it label. For while the actors themselves maybe likable, for the most part, this is the type of film which doesn’t really deserve 2 hours of your time.