Adrien Brody gives a hell of a performance in Wrecked, a movie that forces the actor to bear the brunt of its weight. This small-scale, claustrophobic thriller from Director Michael Greenspan is an interesting cinematic experiment. Brody's character wakes up in a wrecked Chevrolet and must fight through pain and natural elements to discover how he got there. But when stretched to feature length, this barebones story becomes a test of patience rather than a compelling thriller, despite Brody's best efforts to keep the audience involved.
Brody's character is known only as "the Man," and he awakens in a wrecked car at the bottom of a ravine. A dead man is still strapped in the backseat, and another lies contorted on the ground in front of the car. The Man's legs are pinned under the dash, and he has multiple injuries. From the get-go, it's clear Greenspan plans to keep Wrecked tightly focused on the Man, and while it's not shot in strict point-of-view style, the audience sees what the Man sees. Since the Man's memory took a tumble in the wreck, the audience only sees quick, jarring flashes of events that happened before the crash.
Like the recent thriller Buried, which also placed its principal actor in a confined space, Wrecked requires its protagonist to carry the movie completely on his shoulders. Brody performs admirably, and his pain and frustration is believable. But what Wrecked lacks is a sense of urgency; a notion that the Man is in immediate danger. Things were quite finite for Ryan Reynolds in Buried, but the Man, while injured, has plenty of time to waste in the woods. There's no person or force, other than a lack of food and water, menacing the Man, so there's no ticking clock to build suspense.
The Man sees a mysterious woman (Caroline Dhavernas) who brings him food and water, but suddenly she is gone, taking her gifts along with her. The woman personifies a guilt the Man struggles with throughout the film, and her ultimate fate is slightly ambiguous. The Man also encounters a shy dog and a hungry cougar, and I applaud the filmmakers for actually getting a cougar instead of using a puppet or unconvincing CGI. Wrecked does nail its locations, and the crew obviously took great care to make the Man's surroundings as hauntingly real as possible.
I wish I could say I really enjoyed Wrecked. Brody does some great work here, and his performance pushes the film a lot farther than it would have gotten with a lesser actor. Unfortunately, the story is just too thin. There's only so much entertainment to be found in 90 minutes of Brody rummaging through a car and scooting around the woods. Wrecked is an interesting experiment, but not one that need be replicated.
The 2.40:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer for Wrecked is fairly solid despite the modest bitrate it receives in order to fit on a single-layer disc. A light layer of grain in the image complements the film's gritty tone. Detail is solid, and there are plenty of sharp close-ups of Brody that depict every pore, blood clot and dirt fragment on the Man's body. Colors range from the cold browns and greens of a damp forest to the reds and oranges of a sunset, and all are nicely saturated. Blacks are solid and do not crush the action during nighttime scenes, though grain gets a bit heavier. There is pleasing depth in much of the image, and I noticed no aliasing problems. The disc's modest technical specs lead to a minimal amount of compression artifacts, but these don't detract much from the image.
The packaging mislabels the audio as a 5.1 Dolby Digital lossy track, but fortunately that is not the case. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track does a good job with the soundtrack's quieter elements. A mosquito buzzes throughout the sound field, and the sounds of night in the woods echo into the surround speakers. What little dialogue there is comes through unobstructed, and the Man's every grunt and groan is audible. The track is a little flat when presenting louder, action-oriented effects. A car crash and a raging river should reverberate throughout the surround speakers, but the sounds get stranded in the front speakers. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are available.
The Making of Wrecked (14:28) briefly details the guerrilla production as it shoots on location in the woods. Brody reveals that some of his stunt work was a little risky, and Greenspan talks logistics and casting. A Day in the Life of George (2:04) is a somewhat amusing piece about the stiff in the backseat. Flight of the Chevy (6:43) sets to music the Chevy's flight via helicopter to the set, and The Woman's Perspective (3:37) is a brief interview with Dhavernas about her character. The film's theatrical trailer is also included.
Despite a great performance by Adrien Brody, Wrecked is an experiment that doesn't quite pan out. When Brody awakens in the passenger seat of a wrecked Chevrolet at the bottom of a ravine, he must survive the elements and remember how he got there. The action is almost entirely focused on Brody, and the film begins to crumble when stretched to 90 minutes. There's only so much fun to be had with a film that spends most of its running time playing "I Spy" in the woods. Brody's performance and the film's technical merits warrant a rental, but seeing Wrecked once is enough. Rent It.
William lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.