LAZARUS PROJECT, THE: DVD
Ben Garvey (Paul Walker) has plenty for which to be thankful. Now that his parole is over, he is appreciative of his beautiful wife Lisa (Piper Perabo), young daughter Katie (Brooklyn Proulx) and steady paycheck. But then Ben loses his job and joins his ex-con brother Ricky (Shawn Hatosy) in a robbery which goes badly wrong. Facing the death penalty, Ben braces himself for a lethal injection, but regains consciousness to find himself in an alternate reality. There, he is haunted by images of his old life and he begins to question whether his death sentence is really what it seems.
Review by Louise Keller:
This chilling psychological thriller that keeps us hardwired to our seats gives charismatic Paul Walker a fine platform on which to display his considerable talents. An intriguing story that keeps us guessing throughout is nicely maintained as reality and sanity is questioned. Suspenseful and thought provoking, screenwriter John Glenn's directing debut (from a story by Evan Astrowsky) combines hints of religious themes with those of redemption, freewill and scientific experimentation. The result is an absorbing film where most of the action takes place in our minds.
When we first meet Walker's Ben Garvey, we get a taste of his life. He's a guy who has made mistakes in the past, but he has learned from them, and now that his parole is over, is at last realising what are his priorities. Perhaps the weakest part of the script is the speed with which Ben decides to join his no-good brother Ricky (Shawn Hatosy) in a heist, after he loses his job. Of course we know that things are going to go wrong, and suddenly Ben is facing a lethal injection. That's 20 minutes into the film... which is effectively where the story begins. But instead of dying, Ben finds himself in an out of town institution, working as a groundsman. 'We all create fictions to deal with our pain,' says Bob Gunton's Father Ezra, while Lambert Wilson's Avery (who professes to be an angel of sorts) reassures Ben things will become easier if he stops thinking about what he had and concentrates on what he has been given.
A second chance? Or a nightmare on the edge of sanity? There are figures in the forest, a bus of death, a symbol tattooed on the wrist, a friendly dog, a yellow frisby, a drawing that disappears under a wooden cabinet and disturbing flashbacks and memories from another life. William (Tony Curran) is a patient who can't be controlled; Robbie (Malcolm Goodwin) is Ben's workmate who is convinced he is being watched and Linda Cardellini's psychiatric counsellor Julie offers a comforting hand.
Walker has such an appealing presence and he makes us genuinely care about what he is going through. There are different levels on which this film can be viewed, and none of them are simplistic. The twist comes at precisely the right time, allowing us enough mental space to shuffle the cards and revisit everything that has happened.
Published May 7, 2009
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LAZARUS PROJECT, THE: DVD (M)
CAST: Paul Walker, Piper Perabo, Brooklynn Proulx, Bob Gunton, Lambert Wilson, Linda Cardellini, Tony Curran
PRODUCER: David Hoberman, Bill Johnson, Todd Lieberman, Matt Milich, Travis Wright
DIRECTOR: John Glenn
SCRIPT: John Glenn (story by Evan Astrowsky)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jerzy Zielinski
EDITOR: Fred Raskin
MUSIC: Brian Tyler
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jeremy Reed
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: none
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Magna Pacific
DVD RELEASE: May 6, 2009
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.