Stephen Dorff has transcended the B-grade barrier and found himself in a few A-grade releases lately, thanks mostly to Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere”. While Brake might not be flying high on “must-see” lists, it is a fairly enjoyable, yet peculiar, variation on the paranoid thriller. It also has Dorff stuck in a moving vehicle performing a one man show. You’re on the right track if you’re thinking Ryan Reynolds’ coffin thriller “Buried”.
Jeremy Reins (Dorff) awakens in the boot of a car, dazed and confused about where he is or how he got there. Unable to move or escape he is trapped in the dark, in a glass box, the only light coming from a digital clock counting down. He soon realizes he is being held hostage and a terrorist attack is eminent. As the story unfolds more characters are revealed, and the plot becomes clearer, setting everything up for a big twist in the finale.
Hollywood has a habit of going through different fads and the “contained thriller” seems to be the popular new kid on the block. We’ve seen dozens of these lately; Buried, Disturbia, 12 Angry Men, Phone Booth and Panic Room are just a few. Their popularity probably also stem from the fact that they are fast and cheap to produce. Brake was shot in only 12 days, and only has a handful of actors, most of them only voice actors. But don’t let it low-budget or its lack of characters fool you, the director Gabe Torres does a great job of creating suspense.
Habitually drawn to roles that usually display his anger, Dorff does a decent Bruce Willis/Kiefer Sutherland impersonation during the one-man show, but sadly none of it falls remotely close to his work with Sofia. He is, however, more than bearable during the 90 minute running time, and keeps up with the awesome pace of the film.
I can’t help but think that had Brake had a better ending we might have seen it on the big screen. Unfortunately, the twist will leave a few sour faces in the room after viewing. Some will love it, some will hate it.