Directed by Mora Stephens
Starring Patrick Wilson, Lena Headey, Ray Winstone, Richard Dreyfuss
Released on 25th July 2016
As a title, Zipper probably worked fine in the US, but needed changing for the British market. And it’s one of the few things this film got right, even if it did replace it with the decidedly bland Reckless.
Patrick Wilson plays Sam Ellis, a hotshot lawyer with everything going for him – a happy family life and the prospect of achieving his political ambitions in double quick time. But what is intended to be a one-off encounter with a high class escort develops into an addiction, one that threatens to undermine everything he’s built up – family, career, money, the lot. Things take an even sharper downward turn when family friend and journalist Coaker (Ray Winstone) sniffs out the story and threatens to reveal all. Will Sam do the honourable thing?
It’s such a familiar tale it’s smeared with déjà vu as soon as he commits his first, comparatively small, infidelity – a young female colleague comes on to him and they have a snog. That encounter doesn’t go any further, but it’s awakened his curiosity after 13 years of marriage, so the next stop is your friendly local escort agency. Cue scenes of him having sex with various attractive women, all for cash, so it’s not long before card is declined. According to the agency website, they all charge around $2.5 k per hour.
See what I mean about being familiar? Not only that, but the film seems to fancy itself as a pint sized House Of Cards, with all the machinations involved in him getting into politics and keeping his little secret quiet. Richard Dreyfuss has a couple of scenes as the arch manipulator but, let’s face it, Patrick Wilson’s Sam is no Frank Underwood. If anything, he’s more of a Peter Russo and we all know what happened to him.
Aside from all that familiarity, there is a much more fundamental problem with the film. We simply couldn’t give a toss about the main character – or, indeed, any of them. We’ve all heard stories about high-flyers with everything to lose risking it all for something trivial, but when there’s nothing about them to grab your interest, all you can feel is irritated. Here, they’re all so sketchily drawn that it’s almost impossible for actors even of the calibre of Ray Winstone or Dreyfuss to make them much more than two dimensional. And attempts to give the film a moral message at the end – why public servants need to have higher standards than the general public, blah, blah – are just banal and facile.
Even the so-called steamier moments are pretty routine and hardly likely to mist up anybody’s glasses. The whole thing’s not so much Reckless as Wreckage.
Reckless is released on DVD on Monday, 25 July and reviewed on Talking Pictures on Thursday, 28 July.