For the first two thirds, my expectations were met. Sure, I think the editing and directing of the segment transitions was annoying and clunky, but the script itself was taut. A great way to spend a Friday night.
But then the story careens out of control. It seems to want to tackle three separate points of view in the last half-hour but never really commits to that, so what we get is a discombobulated and elongated climax that needs to tie up several threads that have little or nothing to do with the main plot. In general this is not a bad thing, but because of how little time is spent with each character in order to give out as much information as possible, there is little in terms of character development. So there comes a moment when as an audience, we just don't care about most of these people.
(Also, a lot of information is given out, but it is repeated often throughout the several points of view, so a few times it got tiresome).
All of this, in general terms is not terrible. I have to say, I was still stuck to my seat because thankfully the script went back to following Dennis Quaid. And man, I love Dennis Quaid.
It's all fine and dandy. Tension. A great (yet headache-inducing) car chase. A trippy double-cross. I guess I was getting hooked again.
And then two things happened.
First, we were asked to care about Javier, a character who is a badass. This character is not a villain, but he's forced into action because his brother's been kidnapped. He single-handedly takes down entire Presidential guards (couldn't he have done this to the bad guys...? But I digress). He's been told to meet at the underpass to pick up his brother. We hardly know this guy, have assumed he's a villain for quite some time and now we have to feel for him despite his cold demeanor. That's a tall order. Regardless, in several of the points of view Javier is told to meet at the underpass to pick up his brother, but what he doesn't know is that his brother is already dead. In order to make us think he's a villain in the first half of the film, mentioning the rendezvous point seems like a good idea. But at the end, would the villains show up? Of course not, not in real life. But in this film they do.
Which brings me to point number two.
The villains show up where a real-life terrorist with brains would never go, and then, after having murdered countless people, swerve to avoid hitting a little girl (who, by the way, was present during the shooting of the President). The villains swerve. Which means they crash. Which means they're pretty much dead or incapacitated. Which means Dennis Quaid only has to shoot one of them to save the day.
I have not seen such a blatant use of deus ex machina in a film in years. I was disappointed because, after such a great build-up, and after such a tightly-constructed script, the exit clause turned out to be divine.
END OF SPOILERS!
It's frustrating when, despite my minor claims, I find a Hollywood film to be entertaining and well-written, only to have the ending disappoint me so.
A teacher once told me, "write a mediocre script with a fantastic finale, and people will always remembered it as a great film. Make a great movie with a crappy ending, and it will be forgotten."
Damn. I wanted this little movie to be better than any of those bigger Hollywood films. Too bad.
Also, what the hell? They have Sigourney Weaver and she just vanishes from the film? She's Sigourney Weaver, man. She's awesome.