An empty thriller that wastes a great cast and concept on a lifeless script. You might want to stick around for that explosive ending.
This review of the Netflix film Windfall (2022) contains no spoilers.
Nepotism is commonplace in Hollywood and Bargain is a prime example of this need to keep things in the family. Director Charlie McDowell is the son of famous actor Malcolm McDowell (A clockwork orange) and the director’s wife, Lily Collins (daughter of Phil Collins), is one of the three protagonists in this home invasion thriller. There’s nothing new to add to the celebrity privilege debate, after all it’s become a huge part of popular culture, but it seems odd that a millionaire’s son is making a movie that explores the class and inequality themes.
The film opens with a long Hitchcock-inspired static credits sequence. It’s a cinematic debut with a classic noir score and the extravagant aesthetic of a quaint vacation home. We’re introduced to the character of Jason Segel, who wanders aimlessly through the orange groves, basking in the hot midday sun. His name is never revealed throughout the film, however, the end credits go with: Nobody. And it’s a “nothing”, disheveled and nervous. This sneaky stranger proceeds to steal all of her jewelry and hidden money.
Then comes the first twist, the owners return out of the blue, shaking this careless thief into panic mode. Jesse Plemons plays the shrewd and cunning billionaire known simply as “CEO,” and his feisty but downtrodden “wife” is the aforementioned Lily Collins (Emily in Paris). Our insane thief attempts to escape unnoticed, but is spotted instantly and therefore seems compelled to create hostages from this wealthy couple. In a nice change of pace, the play’s victims don’t really take on that stereotype. The CEO is constantly negotiating with the burglar, guiding him almost through the process, and the stubborn woman struggles to keep up with Nobody’s demands. They are sassy and short with their captor which gives a nice modern touch.
Segel portrays the thief out of his depth in style. He’s not quite a buffoon and not quite unhinged, just a wronged man looking for redemption in an unjust world. It reminded me of the role of Seth Rogen in Pam and Tommy, but with less antics. As the trio interact, awaiting the delivery of a heavy ransom, co-writer Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7fr) structures the story like a play. The three make small unnecessary talks, which leads to long slow sequences. The quality definitely dips in the midsection. You’ll have to wait until the end for real drama, though many may have died down by then.
It’s a hollow movie that squanders a great cast and concept. The film is completed with an intriguing opening and a thrilling ending, which saves it from mediocrity. But, like me, viewers will expect much more from this Netflix original and leave deeply disappointed.
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