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October 25, 2009

Surveillance

by Franz Patrick


Surveillance (2008)
★★ / ★★★★

Jennifer Chambers Lynch (“Boxing Helena”) directed this thriller about the investigation of two FBI agents (Julia Ormond and Bill Pullman) regarding the murders of two serial killers. In the police station, they had three witnesses whose commonality was someone close to them was killed: a little girl (Ryan Simpkins), a drug addict (Pell James), and a police officer (Kent Harper). The FBI agents tried to put pieces of the puzzle together but not all of the information they gathered fit. I did like this movie until half-way through the picture. I found the murder scenes to be chilling and horrific. I also liked the idea that the inaccuracies of testimonies were explored in a meaningful way through extended sequences when the interviewers would ask pretty much the same questions in various ways. However, I grew tired of the movie because of the uninterminable scenes regarding the two officers shooting tires since they were either bored or had nothing better to do. I believe that it took away a significant amount of time from the film instead of really exploring who the killers were. A lot of critics mentioned the fact that Jennifer Lynch was David Lynch’s daughter. While that may be true, I thought their ways of telling a story were very different from each other, which was a good thing because I thought Jennifer Lynch really came into her own. However, toward the end of “Surveillance,” I felt that she tried to inject some of her father’s methods of storytelling. It did not work for me because I thought that the twist did not add much for the movie’s dramatic weight. In fact, I felt a bit cheated during the revelation. This film’s sinister tone definitely reminded me of memorable thrillers like “Se7en” and “The Usual Suspects” but, as a whole, it was more limp instead of haunting. I definitely wanted more emotional resonance instead of empty darkness and despair with far too many loose ends.

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