Ellen Page is dying for some screen time in Flatliners. (Columbia Pictures image)

Reel Reviews: Double flop

We say, “Flatliners isn’t that fizzy. American Made is too light”

Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) is a bored TWA pilot who gets headhunted by the CIA when he’s caught smuggling Cuban contraband in to the United States via Canada.

After some easy tasks, trading money for information, the CIA ask Seal to take surveillance photos, run guns and finally bring rebels back to America for training. Seal meets Pablo Escobar and starts smuggling cocaine into America, making more money than he knows what to do with. This is also the point where life starts getting crazy and ultimately ends.

Speaking of ending, in our other movie this week Flatliners, five medical students conduct an experiment to find out what happens to the brain just after the heart has stopped. Revived, they soon discover they are not alone and their pasts are looking for vengeance.

We say, “Flatliners isn’t that fizzy. American Made is too light.”

HOWE: If anyone remembers, or cares to, the original Flatliners was packed to the rafters with the big stars of the day: Sutherland, Roberts, Bacon, Baldwin and Platt. This remake, not so much. I guess that was why I saw the movie in an empty theatre. I can’t really blame anyone for skipping out on Flatliners because this remake is pretty dismal. The scares are not bad — there were a few jumps. But some of the acting was so wooden it was a real letdown. You could have played skittles with the actors. I was very surprised how badly Ellen Page has regressed in her ability to act, but I guess you can’t lay all the blame just on her. The director and/or writer must take some of the blame. Don’t waste your money. See if you can find a copy of the original. And if you can’t do that, make an appointment for the dentist, as a trip there is more exciting than either film.

TAYLOR: I was curious about Flatliners but I read that it was terrible, so I decided to see American Made, despite being perpetually unimpressed by Tom Cruise. I was interested in the story (I already knew) and I was looking forward to the lighthearted “cowboy” treatment of a diabolical conspiracy of extraordinary magnitude. “Yee Haw! We’re running drugs for Uncle Sam!” Having Barry Seal portrayed by Cruise, boyish grin affixed below eyes that have clearly lost sight of reality, is a no-brainer. Cruise fits the part, so it works. When you try to create a flashy adventure film out of complicated, true events, everything is reduced to a line, a look, or a chase scene. When Barry Seal tells his CIA handler Shaffer (Domhnall Gleeson) “I need to make more money.” Shaffer says, “You’ll figure it out.” Those four words say a lot about this story. The film is entertaining and purposely cute, to its detriment. The film is well-written and captured, but it feels too light, like it’s glorifying the story, which is like glorifying everything that’s wrong with America. Maybe I’m obtuse and this is subtle satire, but I don’t think I am. Shame on the filmmakers for missing out on the opportunity to create something either funny or powerful rather than neither. If, on the other hand, you have no idea what the Iran-Contra hearings were about, or you don’t know the etymology of “Banana Republic” then go see American Made.

Taylor gives American Made 2.5 kilos out of 5.

Howe gives Flatliners 2 motorbikes out of 5.

— Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon.

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