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Power of Few, The

Vivendi Entertainment // R // July 9, 2013
List Price: $19.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Tyler Foster | posted July 9, 2013 | E-mail the Author
On a single day, in a span of 15 or 20 minutes, the lives of several people are entwined in a mix of fate and chance. Cory (Devon Gearheart) knows his baby brother needs medicine, but he can't afford it, so he hops over to his grandfather's house, finds a revolver, and goes into a grocery store owned by Shane (Derek Richardson) and Mala (Moon Bloodgood) with plans to rob it. Dom (Jesse Bradford) is on the run when he bumps into Alexa (Q'orianka Kilcher), an alluring delivery girl he immediately falls for. Two police officers, Clyde (Christian Slater) and Marti (Nicky Whelan) track a man they believe to be a domestic terrorist and the package he intercepted. Finally, homeless drifters Doke (Christopher Walken) and Brown (Jordan Prentice) wander the street looking for trouble, while Junkshow (Anthony Anderson) and Shamu (Juvenile) are the men hunting for Dom.

Although the star-studded cast may make the film seem like a high-profile project, The Power of Few is a distinctly amateur exercise in cinematic masturbation. For every bit of wit and skill that director / screenwriter Leone Marucci shows off here, he also just plain shows off, trying to dazzle the viewer with dull reveals, simple connections, and empty philosophical ideas. The film examines the same 15-to-20-minute segment multiple times, focusing on a different batch of characters each time. On a technical level, the film is adequately made, but Marucci gets too distracted making his movie memorable on the surface to focus on the mechanics of making it memorable underneath.

Marucci's directorial style is a good place to start. When Cory arrives at his grandfather's house, the camera looms up out of the sink drain, next to a towering faucet dripping water that looks slightly thick. It's a memorable shot, but it doesn't serve any narrative purpose. There is no reason to choose this shot to establish the bathroom over any other, and it seems like someone probably had to construct a giant sink (either physically or in the computer) to accomplish it. It would be better to save some sort of cinematic emphasis for the discovery of the gun, but no. Later, a rat dives into a pipe and Marucci's camera follows the pipe down the side of a building to a dumpster where Doke and Brown are digging for scraps. I expected the mouse to at least re-appear at the bottom, if not get captured as potential lunch, but the mouse is forgotten when the camera finds the drifters. Cinematic gymnastics like this ought to have some narrative purpose, but Marucci's movie is littered with stylish shots for the sake of it. Meanwhile, what may be an actual town looks consistently like a backlot -- his time would've been better spent tweaking the actual cinematography.

Script-wise, Marucci's skills get better as the film goes along. The first segment, with Cory, is not particularly interesting until it ends, clarifying that the film has more story than just a kid desperately trying to get some baby medicine. The Dom / Alexa segment is elevated by Kilcher, who has great chemistry with Bradford, but it's a basic Meet Cute scenario, plus gunfire. The cop thread is plagued with so much ridiculous technical dialogue about ops and stages and marks that I honestly wondered if the characters would be revealed as aliens before the film was over. Still, Slater plays to basic strengths, and Whelan is intentionally irritating as a cokehead who's overly desperate to catch the "bad guy." The film holds steady for the weird story of Doke and Brown, which succeeds on the strength of Walken and Prentice's rapport, and the movie goes out on a relative high note, following a young girl (Tione Johnson) who hops into Junkshow and Shamu's car. Johnson gives the film's best performance, punching up Anderson and Juvenile's game in the process. It's a cutesy reveal, but she makes it work as well as it can.

The editing of these threads is decent, and some of the performances are fun, but The Power of Few doesn't have anything particularly interesting to offer. It's probably true that many viewers without any expectations will be pleased to see everything come together in the end, but it's a hollow victory, with the cohesiveness of the film failing to add up to any sort of significant point beyond "well, what a coincidence." Take the title, for example: The Power of Few. It's actually a pun -- a perfect example of the kind of depth Marucci manages to achieve.

Vivendi's key art for The Power of Few conspicuously highlights its ensemble cast -- the most famous members, anyway. It's a basic blocky design that's quickly become the 21st century version of "floating heads." The disc comes in a standard eco-friendly Amaray case (the kind with holes), and there is no insert.

The Video and Audio
The cinematography of The Power of Few pretty much sets the stage for the quality of this 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Although detail is strong (if imperfect), and I didn't spot any significant compression errors, it should also be pointed out that this is the kind of intentionally harsh-looking image that looks extra ugly in standard-def, with blown-out whites and drab, desaturated colors. The Power of Few also contains a number of interesting, surreal aural effects to give your speaker set-up some exercise. This Dolby Digital 5.1 track is packed with ominous rumbling, bizarre music, distant screaming, gunshots, car crashes, and more fill the surrounds and shake the subwoofer. There are some sound effects that are actually too crisp -- a baby's cries in the first few minutes of the movie are painfully fake. Still, this is a nice, punchy mix that stands out among other direct-to-video extras with the same basic amount of action.

The Extras
"The Making of The Power of Few" (4:04) is a very short, very canned EPK. The cast, caught on set, offer pretty generic soundbytes about the movie and their characters, while summing up the film's philosophical point. More of the interview footage included in the EPK is presented separately, for each actor: Christian Slater (4:02), Christopher Walken (3:53), Anthony Anderson (5:11), and Juvenile (3:20). No idea why none of the other interviews from the EPK are presented. Two "Community Outreach" featurettes are included: "Clementine & Carrie" (1:02), and "Local Teens" (2:21), spotlighting the members of the public that were given small roles in the film. This seems to be a cause important to Q'Orianka Kilcher, who appears briefly in the first clip and is mentioned in the second.

The disc wraps up with a deleted scene (1:21) of Doke and Brown running from Officer McCain (caleb Moody) after making a crack about a pedestrian, and the film's original theatrical trailer. There is also a QR code on the special features menu, but I didn't scan it to find out what it unlocks.

The Power of Few has some likable segments, and it's not a poorly-made film, it's just a simple one without much to say. Johnson gives a great performance and the star-studded ensemble cast is kind of fun, but it's no more than a rental at best.

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