Wrecked Movie Review
Director: Michael Greenspan
Starring: Adrien Brody, Caroline Dhavernas (Hollywoodland, Breach)
A-list actors with a large fan following are often criticized for taking roles that don’t physically or emotionally challenge them, as their fans will see any movie they’re in. Academy Award-winning actor Adrien Brody is one exception to this rule, as seen in the upcoming IFC Midnight Films release ‘Wrecked.’ The independent movie not only shows Brody’s ease at emotionally developing his character, who has little back-story and is in the majority of the movie by himself, he also wasn’t afraid to perform his own stunts to better connect to his role.
‘Wrecked’ follows the unnamed man (played by Brody), who wakes up to find himself to be the only survivor in a devastating one-car crash at the bottom of a steep cliff. Not remembering who the other passengers are or even who he is, why they crashed and how they got to the bottom of the cliff, the man only has his instincts to rely on to survive. Trapped in the car, the man has to figure out how to free himself while struggling with hallucinations, including one where a woman he doesn’t know (played by Caroline Dhavernas) who keeps coming back to taunt him.
While ‘Wrecked,’ which was written by Christopher Dodd, is essentially just a tale chronicling how people will react when they are not only fighting to remember their identity but for their survival as well, the story loses its appeal over time. While the audience immediately connects to the man, as they are just as interested as he is to find out why the car crashed, who he is and how he will escape, spending almost the entire film exclusively with just the one character makes it lose its appeal.
Dodd and first-time director Michael Greenspan achieve their goal of wanting the audience to connect with the man and feel the pan he’s suffering while trying to figure out a way back to safety. However, the lack of explanation of the crash and an external conflict will not only leave the audience feeling bored, but it will also unfortunately make them lose sympathy for the man.
Despite this slowing down of the action, Brody still perfectly portrays the man. Despite ‘Wrecked’ having a small budget and short shooting schedule, and Brody being in many of the scenes by himself, as the man is by himself for almost the entire plot, the actor perfectly identified with his character. Brody understood the man’s determination to survive and identified with his need to figure out why and how the crash occurred.
As Brody has said, “It’s very rare to find a story which revolves entirely on one character…the circumstances were so unusual and dramatic.” He understood that the movie’s success relied on his accurate portrayal of the man, and not surprisingly, took numerous risks to make the character believable. For example, Brody persuaded Greenspan into letting him spend a night alone in the woods where they were filming to get a better understanding of his experience, and this commitment shone through on screen.
Greenspan, who said he didn’t know what Brody would do once they started shooting, made the right decision in hiring the actor; as the director has said, Brody “works from the gut. He’s very instinctual.” Not only did Brody embrace the emotional challenges of the character, he also wanted to do his own stunts, including eating an ant and worm, to make the story more realistic.
While the story for ‘Wrecked’ does have some set-backs, Greenspan really showed his fantastic ability to helm a film. He proved his dedication to the story by spending almost 60 days, over three times the 18-day shooting schedule, just scouting for the perfect cliff. When he chose Little Mountain on Vancouver Island, he and producer Kyle Mann spent two weeks trying to get to the bottom. When they finally did get to the bottom, they had to figure out how to make the location look perfect for the shoot, and how they would get the car, crew and equipment to the bottom.
Despite the physical limitations, including filming during the freezing Canadian winter, Greenspan still made the shoot look effortless. His dedication to telling the man’s story, and chronicling every person’s fight for survival, was clearly evident in ‘Wrecked.’
While the story became tedious at times, first-time director Greenspan surprisingly made up for it by showing his dedication to finding the perfect location for filming. He also meticulously planned and prepared the car crash. He also had so much faith in Brody’s acting abilities that he allowed him to deviate from the script, despite schedule and budget restraints. The director and actor’s commitment to ‘Wrecked’ definitely makes up for the shortfalls of the story.
By: Karen Benardello