Surge (2020)

They say you only get one chance to make a good first impression. This is very true (maybe only for me) when it comes to actors. It doesn’t matter how many serious films Olivia Coleman is in, I will always see her as Sophie from Peep Show. That kind of thing hit this film HARD, I know Ben Whishaw is a great actor, with a tremendous filmography. But to me he will always be Pingu from Nathan Barley, or Paddington. This is an action film, and to have the shadow of Paddington loom over it means the film is a strange watch.

Strange, but interesting. There are moments where nothing happens, which can be dull as hell to watch. In reality it’s strangely enthralling. It’s like watching a car crash in super slow motion. You know something awful is going to happen, and you know what it will be, but despite knowing it won’t be happening yet, you still can’t turn away, you want to watch every single second unfold in front of you.

I’m still not sure what I thought of it to be honest. It’s not an easy watch, but it’s not supposed to be. For some reason it feels almost voyeuristic. It kind of feels like you’re not watching a film, but like someone has just got their phone out and started to film a guy having a breakdown. That gritty invasive style won’t be for everybody, and some people will really love it. It’s the kind of style which splits reviewer ratings to either be 9/10 or 1/10, or somehow both at the same time.

I’m not even sure whether I can recommend this. It’s unrelentingly brutal. But not in a “everybody is in constant physical pain” way, more, like the universe itself is painful to live in. Part of that is due to the directing, this is the first feature-length film directed by Aneil Karia, and he does it brilliantly. The script? Not so much, there are too many moments where you are just kind of bored. I feel it could have done with either being cut down, or by adding moments where stuff happens to keep you interested. It depends too heavily on the performances and the directing, if it wasn’t for that it would sink without a trace. Thankfully the performances are great. Whishaw is intense as hell, worlds away from the cuddliness of Paddington or the the knowledge of Q. I just wish the world was as good as his character. It’s fascinating as a character study, to watch someone get broken and get constantly criticised (at one point, for swallowing too loudly) until he eventually just snaps. It’s a character that’s deserving of much more captivating story.

So should you watch this? I’m still not sure to be honest, I’d say watch it if you get a chance, but no need to seek it out. Shame as from a technical standpoint it is great, but it’s lacking so much from a storytelling perspective. Put it this way: I would much rather listen to a soundscape based on this film, than I would read a book adaptation.

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