What prompted me to track this film down and have a peek was the paradox presented by the mainstream reviews.
They were skewed in every possible direction.
BAD FRANK was clearly one of those rare films you either loved or hated, but no middle ground.
If you loved it, you loved the performances, the quirky dialog, the oddball plot development and direction, and the whole "film noire" mood (even though it was shot in color). And also it was nominated for a whole bunch of awards I had never heard of, even won a couple.
However, if you hated it -- and a lot of mainstream reviewers did in fact hate it -- you saw it as a poor knockoff to Taken; you saw it as failing to deliver on its "action" promise; and you saw it as overlong, jumbled, and generally disappointing.
In other words, for a reviewer, this was a challenge. I had to find out for myself.
And I did.
Here is my take on BAD FRANK.
1. Critics who saw it as a cheap knockoff of Taken did not understand the film. In spite of the story and the casting, even in spite of the PR package put out by the distributors, this is much more a film that belongs in the class of "artistic horror" than an action story.
TAKEN, with Liam Neeson (the first one, not the horrible sequels), was a jewel of writing and direction. Action, reaction. Action, reaction. A straight arc from beginning to end. BAD FRANK benefits from, and yet also suffers from, Tony Germinario's intention -- as both writer and director -- to break as many scriptwriting conventions as he possibly can. And he does it just to show he can. (Like George Carlin's gag -- "why does a dog lick his privates? CAUSE HE CAN!")
2. When judged in its proper class -- as idiosyncratic horror, like LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT -- it is pretty interesting, and stays with you after the credits roll, which is saying something. Which is not to say it is perfect, or even close to perfect, or even that it could get a table close to perfect at a fancy restaurant. It is overlong, some of the dialog is terrible -- and Tony Germinario may possibly have seen one too many Tarantino movies, and it shows.
But the acting is astounding. Interdonato never breaks character even for a split second, and Sizemore matches him pound for pound in the race to see who is crazier and deserves to have PLANTERS stamped on his butt.
3. The ending (which I will NOT give away) shows, once again, Tony Germinario's obsession with breaking rules. Remember the happy ending in Taken? Well, this ain't Taken. Not even close! Once again, a wackjob ending like this one is the hallmark, the fingerprint, of a horror film, not an action film.
Summary: as a first film for a fledgling writer/director correctly niched in its class -- horror -- it is interesting and memorable. As pure entertainment competing for your attention with the other 10,000 movies available in theatres and on the net, it is perhaps less of a sure thing. But still memorable.
Recommended? Yes, m'am.
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