Saturday, July 23, 2011

Review: Endure (2010) TH

One life for another

A bound and gagged woman in central Florida is driven to an out of reach location in the middle of the night by a stranger and has her photograph taken as she's tied against a tree in the woods. Leaving her alive and alone, the man drives off and somewhere on his trip suddenly has a deer go through his windshield killing him. An experienced detective named Emory Lane (Judd Nelson)--who's at home with his terminally ill wife Sirena (Joey Lauren Adams)--is called out to what initially looks like a normal car wreck but because there is a photograph, blood and handcuff keys the police want to look further into the suspicious evidence that might point to foul play.

A young, former west coast detective named Zeth Arnold (Deven Sawa) is called in as an apprentice in account of Lane being tied up in his personal life. They frequently butt heads as Arnold is over-confident and has a somewhat brash way of handling the case than the by-the-book veteran. Judd Nelson plays the character somewhat reserved and contemplative to the point of appearing detached. His character has trust issues, but gives some leeway as he can't be two places at once. Devon Sawa delivers some dry banter and his character speaks what's on his mind, which comes off as cocky but might actually have something to offer under that rookie demeanor.

There are hundreds of miles of roadway and five hundred thousand acres of swamp to comb through, so the detectives start with what they know. They question the dead man named Macey's neighbors, who explain that he was a loner, not right in the head and doesn't have any living relatives that he keeps in touch with. The girl is identified as Daphne (Clare Kramer) by a friend who said she just talked to her last night but is currently missing. A profiler is called in and suggests that there might be an accomplice that he seeks approval from. Taking cues from John Lithgow in "Dexter" of who you wouldn't expect, Tom Arnold brings a good-guy face to his role as Simon but makes you think twice about what's underneath. From one revelation to the next the detectives uncover an underground network, which gives them more to contend with to save the young woman's life before it's too late.

This is a gradually paced drama about searching for answers. It also deals with saving a life and watching one depart. Lane's wife is cooped up with nowhere to go, and he wants to stay but has everywhere to be; though he eventually uses the time away to push aside his feelings and in an odd sense cope. What a viewer gets: a basic story about human suffering that isn't confusing or muddled with layer upon layer of twists as it keeps it conventional as far as crime plots go. This is more held back than the typical shoot-'em-up-warrantless-bustin'-down-the-door-alcoholic features you normally see in the genre. This injects some feelings and leaves ample room open for the viewer's own interpretations, as well as the actions and motivations in the movie seem reasonable.

The major issue with "Endure" is it doesn't always capitalize on its own story line due to trying to meld two different subplots and be thoroughly realistic while at it. This isn't going for the usual cinematic experience, as the editing and cinematography are restrained, the dialogue is close enough to how real people speak and the situation isn't glamorized or sensationalized. There's drama to be had here though the delivery felt somewhat flat and the characters didn't end up being as memorable as they could have. At times it comes across as cut and dry, even when a piece of evidence is unraveled to get closer to finding the victim while she's still alive. Not until the latter portion is there much in the way of being gripping. There's no sense in over-dramatizing the story like so many do and force it, but the atmosphere feels calm and relaxed to the point of being dozy and less important than it should be, as the dire circumstances at hand don't always have the capability of captivating one's undivided attention for the then and now.

Director: Joe O'Brien
Starring: Judd Nelson, Devon Sawa, Joey Lauren Adams, Tom Arnold, Clare Kramer
Website: IMDB