Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Review: The Speed of Thought (2011) TH


I know exactly what you're thinking...literally

In the wake of the ultra budget blockbuster super-hero flicks, "The Speed of Thought" enters as a small link on the chain in the people-with-special-abilities genre. There are going to be less camera setups, bombastic-less music, no flashy costumes but instead more story and dialogue to concentrate on.

A telepath named Joshua Lazarus (Nick Stahl), who works covertly for the NSA branch of the government, has a degenerative disease as a result of his ability. He's told no one survives past 28 yet the pills he's given will stale the inevitable. He's got nothing to lose if there's no future ahead of him, so he hangs loose with drinking, gambling, call girls and awaits madness to take hold, as the voices that were once controllable start to pile up. A light at the end of the tunnel appears and he gains some hope on one of his last missions in Uruguay when he meets an attractive woman named Anna (Mia Maestro) who also has the mind-reading ability known as "scoping."

Joshua has a mentor named Sandy (Wallace Shawn) who runs "The Home" in which special people of his kind are kept for training and treatment. Sandy eases the pressure of withering away with sympathetic talks as he's dealt with many in the same situation. His slightly older friend Kira (Taryn Manning) starts to show symptoms before himself, yet at the same time she oddly starts to gain some new abilities. With Anna, Joshua finds a true connection when they mind meld memories together. Instead of showing shots of the characters' faces in person and a voice over top, this switches to an isolated area that has them dreamily talking to each other face-to face in what looks like they're physically standing there.

This is as much of a slow moving drama as it's a love-at-first-telepathic-reading type of movie in the vicinity of "Hereafter" though without being exactly the same. Joshua and Anna form a forbidden connection as she's a natural who could never share her secret and he swore secrecy to the people he works for who keep a very close eye on him. They become personal in their heads but yearn for that physical touch. Together they make an attempt to get away from it all to be together no matter where that is but are sucked back into it when the company gets hot on their tail and some revelations are unveiled about who's really who and what it all means.

"The Speed of Thought" is a simple movie to escape with as you get the special abilities side that comes with its own set of rules and there is also some romance to make it more personable. If they shaved off some time it would have made a decent enough hour long TV pilot to get engaged in. But as is, the dialogue frequently overemphasizes to nail the point home and it causes the flow to get stuck in a lower gear and become somewhat tedious. Blair Brown, who plays the boss, feels tight casted from Fringe. There's some chemistry among the characters though it doesn't always leave much to read between the lines for what they're feeling or how it works. Usually filmmakers find a balance in the middle of stating the obvious and being too vague yet this continually steps over the line towards the former. Confusion--nope. Subtlety--what's that? Nearly every thought and movement is laid out in plain view, which sucks out the passion and challenge after awhile when it started out on a higher note. For a film about the mind, the dialogue doesn't always leave much to the imagination and drags down some of the rest of the film with oversimplification.

Director: Evan Oppenheimer (Alchemy)
Starring: Nick Stahl, Mia Maestro, Taryn Manning, Blair Brown, Wallace Shawn
Website: IMDB