• 19 Dec - 25 Dec, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

Between all the aggressive handheld shots, drone shots, extreme close-ups and jump cuts we find Arthur Bretnik (Eckhart), an ex-cop turned private investigator who makes a living helping out victims of various conspiracies. There are also a dozen whiplash flashbacks showing, over and over again, how his life as a police detective was destroyed by a car accident that left his daughter dead and his wife catatonic.

The frantic filmmaking is obviously meant to reflect our hero's frantic mind, but it winds up giving you a migraine and actually undermines the whole setup: If Bretnik is already this crazy then why should we even bother following him all the way down the rabbit hole? The fact that Eckhart tends to overdo most of his scenes adds fuel to the fire, with the camera zipping into his goggle-eyed expression as Bretnik finds yet another new clue.

The case he’s chasing involves a mysterious town in the desert called, yup, Wander, and what appears to be some sort of The Running Man-style security system whereby anyone who tries to escape gets their chest blown open by a micro-sized bomb. Such a gory device could prove suspenseful if Mullen held a shot for longer than a few seconds, or if anything else we were watching made sense at all, or if the supporting characters – cops, FBI agents, an immigrant mom – didn’t have the consistency of cardboard.

As the Alex Jones-style radio show host Jimmy Cleats, Jones mostly hams it up, wearing a selection of garrish shirts that could probably qualify him for the Boogaloo movement. The cast is rounded out by Katheryn Winnick in a role mostly hidden by a hat and sunglasses, and Heather Graham, who plays Bretnik’s confidant and attorney.

Perhaps the biggest problem with Wander is that, as much as it tools with the viewer until the very last shot, tossing out tons of red herrings and false leads, it never really trusts in the viewer’s intelligence. There’s a voiceover by Eckhart explaining every single move, and lots of references made to phenomena meant to ground the film in contemporary political realities, but that ultimately feels like brash attempts to give this nonsense some kind meaning. Is it all happening in Bretnik’s deranged mind or is this actually for real? Do we really care?

– Compilation