If you take this on face value, it’s pretty awful with few redeeming features. Detective Scotty Galban (Reeves) must solve the murder of his NYPD partner and he must do so painfully slowly with little or no facial expression. Meanwhile, the Dominican de La Cruz family which centres around Isabel (de Armas) are quietly going about their lives with no meaningful connection to anything else. Isabel has married into the family but her husband Jose, is away in Iraq fighting in the army. Her brother-in-law ‘Rocky’ has conversely recently rejoined the family after stretch in prison. Rocky is symbolically looking after Jose’s dog. As the film opens, Rocky and Isabel are photographed leaving the same party. The photos are found on our dead detective’s camera. What could possibly be going on here?
As events don’t unfold, Reeves doesn’t battle with grief over his dead partner or his wife’s recent passing. His son, who we never see, appears to cause some discomfort, possibly indigestion, to occur on Reeves’ face. He might have accidentally poked himself in the eye then rubbed it as some water mysteriously drips down his cheek in one scene. Neither does Keanu actually do much detecting and then, two hours after the film (if you were interested enough in the few, few interesting moments) once you have a chance to do some research, you discover that this storyline was originally a minor role. No wonder it looked terribly rushed, poorly (and repetitively) written and explains why it such a baffling mess until a Sixth Sense-esc attempt at a jaw-dropping twist attempts to tie the narratives together. The twist does actually drop your jaw – in sheer disbelief at the disrespectful and incongruous portrayal of a horrific subject, of which the majority is crammed into the last 10 minutes because you are forced to spend so much time looking at Reeves’ self-respect drain away.
So that’s 400 words on the bad. Basically, Gee Malik Linton and Ana de Armas are responsible for the best bits – the ones which you get to see at least. Who knew that people that aren’t that famous could possibly make something of merit? Only famous people can achieve emotional nuance, right? Linton was the original indie-director who wanted to make a half-Spanish film about female social issues, with Ana de Armas as the focal point. Amidst the mess, de Armas shines as a school teacher with a mix of much-needed engaging human interaction and a spirituality, while initially pointlessly shoe-horned, later proves vital in a project originally titled Daughter of God.
The film, which includes the credit ‘Albino Floating Man‘ is consistently confusing. It’s not one of mystery, or intrigue borne of in-depth characterisation; it is more the mental repetition “what??” that rings inside the head. Lionsgate (and Reeves depending on who you believe) have extinguished all sparks of interest in this as indie insightfulness is crippled into a Hollywood “slick thriller” (these words are actually part of the self-deluded publicity).
Review by George Meixner