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Film Review: Double Down (2005)

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SYNOPSIS:

An edgy action thriller set in Las Vegas during a terrorist attack. A brilliant computer loner takes control of the city and the attack as he fights with his fits of overwhelming depression and obsessions with love and death.

REVIEW:

Today’s journey into the B grade cinema jungle is brought to us by one Neil Breen. A Las Vegas architect and one-time real estate agent, this go-getter decided to produce, write, direct, edit, and star in his own films. Sadly, he’s not good at any of those things. He must be a better architect than he is a filmmaker, because he still manages to get the money he needs to keep his Hollywood dream going whether the rest of us want him to or not. I’m beginning to wonder if he just wants to punish mankind by unleashing his cinematic awfulness upon it.

In Double Down, Neil Breen stars as a Aaron Brand, a former military pilot who has become some kind of eco terrorist. He’s also been awarded every medal there is. Not only is he able to make his own bio weapons, he’s helped create some of the computer systems used by our government to control their satellites. He’s even able to have the satellites surround where he’s at with a “laser shield” that cloaks him and also kills anyone that tries to enter it. The world governments won’t touch him because he’s told them all that he has placed biological weapons in seven major cities across the globe, and if he’s not able to send the weapons a special code at regular intervals they will go off. He’s also a master hacker who’s able to break into almost any system. He is planning to take over most of the systems in Las Vegas and implement some kind of attack. Brand also believes that he is able to cure incurable diseases just by laying his hands on someone, because why not?

The best way describe this is to call it “sheer lunacy.” The character of Aaron Brand sounds like something a 12 year old would make up: a hero that is so awesome at everything he does that no one could ever beat him. He’s James Bond pushed to the most absurd degrees of hyper competence that makes the Roger Moore Bond films seem down to earth in comparison. The problem with this kind of hero is that you never truly believe he’s ever in danger. It’s the same struggle that some writers had with Superman in the late 1970s and early ‘80s before DC unleashed Crisis on Infinite Earths. At the time, Superman had become so powerful that he was able to use his x-ray vision to actually see into other galaxies and kryptonite didn’t affect him anymore. How can you come up with a viable threat to someone like that?

One possible theory to why Breen would make his character a near messianic uber-man is to feed his own ego.

Of course, despite his claims of how amazing he is, Aaron Brand never comes across that way. He comes across as being clumsy and awkward in most of his scenes. He’s also an out of shape middle-aged man, so he doesn’t exactly have the kind of body one would expect of an action hero.Not to be mean, but he doesn’t have the looks either. Or the charisma.Or any kind of compelling element that makes you interested in a single thing he does. Breen doesn’t have a single talent in the acting field. He can’t emote believably, and he delivers dialogue with as much energy as a corpse. Of course, since he’s narrating the whole movie, you’re going to have to listen to his nearly robotic monotone. After a while, you’re not sure if you’re actually listening to a real human being or an artificial intelligence trying to pretend it’s human. Now that I said that, I probably should find an A.I. and apologize to it. An artificial intelligence would actually be more interesting than Breen. The only interesting thing about the narration is that it’s a rambling mess that at times borders on incomprehensible gibberish at times. It’s like being forced to listen to a schizophrenic having a conversation with the voices in their head.

The majority of what we see Breen do is hang around the desert with tv satellite dishes attached to the back of his car. Apparently, we’re supposed to believe he’s able to hack into any system using a DirectTV satellite dish that appears to be connected to nothing. When he’s not tinkering with those, he’s “using” laptops. Hilariously, he never actually turns a single one of the four or five laptops on, but we’re supposed to believe he’s still able to do some amazing stuff with them. It kind of ruins the credibility of your character when he doesn’t seem to understand that turning on a device is actually required before freaking using it!

There are things that happen throughout the film that have little explanation and seem to happen randomly. The editing at times appears to have been performed by someone who didn’t know what they were doing (three guesses who was the film editor. You’ll only need one). What little music Double Down has to offer is the aural equivalent of having someone throwing up directly into your ears (and guess who was the musical director?). You know, let’s just sum it up: everything was awful. Not a single aspect of filmmaking was done with any level of competence here. It was a showcase of absolute ineptitude. Instead of being a suspenseful thriller, this cinematic dog turd was an unintentional comedy.

I’ve heard people say that Neil Breen should go down in the bad movie maker’s hall of fame, right alongside the likes of Ed Wood and Tommy Wiseau. After having sat through Double Down, I can honestly see why. He’s making horrid films, but he’s doing it with such an earnestness that is almost endearing. Double Down is the kind of thing you don’t watch for enjoyment or even out of masochistic self loathing. You only watch it out of a sick curiosity to see if it’s really as bad as you’ve heard. Sometimes you have to experience something for yourself to truly believe what you’ve heard or read about something is true. You may find yourself strangely compelled to find out for yourself how bad Double Down is. If you do, just know that I warned you.

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