Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Perfect Guy Review

Last year on this same weekend there was a random thriller that came out called No Good Deed. I was slightly hesitant to see it as no one seemed to like it and it was in the middle September. However, I did check it out and was pleasantly surprised. It was a fairly decent thriller. Because of the success of that movie, Sony green-lit another thriller for the same weekend this year called The Perfect Guy. It was very much a déjà vu for Sony. Both movies had a predominately black cast and both were about a guy terrorizing a girl with the girl having to stand up for herself. Both weren't expected to do much at the box office, yet both earned around $25 million on their respective opening weekends, giving both the surprise win that weekend at the box office. Both movies were panned by critics, although for some odd reason most critics elected not to see The Perfect Guy as it only has 19 reviews counted on Rotten Tomatoes compared to the usual 100+ reviews. However, the thing that is very different in this case is my personal enjoyment of the movie. This isn't a bad movie, but it's lacking a lot of elements that make for a good thriller.

A lot of the reviews that I have read suggest that this movie is bad because it is completely unoriginal and predictable. It's been a movie that's been made a hundred times before, so it's just uninteresting. This is an idea that I actually disagree with. I've been watching a lot of Hitchcock thrillers and a lot of those movies have very similar premises as well. Hitchcock seemed to love the idea of making a movie about a guy that has been accused of doing something he didn't do. He also seemed to love the idea of using just one set for the whole movie. But despite these similarities, most of his movies are still considered classics. The same idea applies to the TV show Criminal Minds. It's one of my favorite shows, but if I'm being honest, most of the episodes follow the same formula. Does that make it bad? No, it doesn't. It's still really good. So yes, the premise of The Perfect Guy is one we have seen before. Our main female makes the decision to breakup with her boyfriend of two years because he can't commit to marriage. Shortly after, she meets another man who initially seems like he is the perfect guy. But one day he snaps and that is enough for our girl to realize that she wants nothing to do with him. Well, turns out this guy is a crazy psychopath and is definitely not done with her. This is kind of a spoiler, but not really. All you have to do is look at the title of the movie and connect the dots that this is a thriller and not a romantic drama and you know exactly what's going to happen for the first half of the movie. It's how things are resolved that's the mystery here.

No, this is nothing new. But that's not the issue I had. As I've been thinking about this movie in comparison to a lot of other thrillers that I have watched recently, I've been able to pinpoint some key elements that this thriller is missing in order to make it successful. The most important element it's missing is the lack of a compelling villain. Michael Ealy is our villain here and the man does a really good job with what he is given. He is very charming and romantic at first and is also very creepy at the end. I'm not blaming him personally for this. The problem is how his character is written. The best thrillers have villains that are very deep and complex in nature. In many instances, the audience is actually able to relate to the villain and even feel bad for them to a certain extent. Take Hitchcock's Psycho as a perfect example of this. There are some 55-year-old spoilers that come with this comparison, so feel free to skip ahead if you haven't yet seen Psycho. Norman Bates is a very complex individual. He comes off initially as a very kind, loving guy who wants the best for his hotel guests. But then his psychotic mother comes in and kills them. At first you feel bad that Norman is stuck with such an awful mother, but when you learn that his mother is dead and has been for a long time, it hits you that it's been Norman killing the people the whole time. He's just experiencing psychotic breaks where he kills people without even realizing it. You kinda feel bad for him. But you don't at the same time. Such a fascinating, deep character.

I'm not saying that all thrillers need to have a villain on par with Norman Bates. That's an impossible bar to match. But the general principles behind what makes Norman Bates such a good villain are the principles that thrillers should follow. Deep, complex villains that you often can relate to or feel bad for are a whole lot more interesting than random psychopaths going around killing people. Criminal Minds is a show where almost every episode has a fascinating villain. It's my personal favorite crime drama because instead of focusing on the who-done-it aspect like a lot of them do, it focuses on the psychology of a killer. Why do they do the things they do. What happened in their life to turn them into such an awful human being. A lot of them look like normal, average people that had to deal with things things in their past that aren't uncommon problems. Another great example is The Gift, which is currently one of my favorite movies from this year. I won't dive too deep into that, but Joel Edgerton's villain isn't just a random guy deciding to ruin another guy's life. There's a history to this guy that makes him a very deep, interesting character. I don't want to go into specifics about Michael Ealy in The Perfect Guy because that would require spoiling the movie, but these elements that I've talked about in these past couple of paragraphs are missing with Michael Ealy's character.

Another important element of a good thriller is a satisfying conclusion. The suspense builds and builds throughout the course of the movie and is leading towards one major event that happens at the end. Most of the time this ending is a twist that you don't see coming. When this twist occurs, you experience one of the best feelings that happens in movies, that of the mind being blown. You've been watching these events in the movie build up without really knowing what's going on and suddenly in one moment your whole perception changes and it's rather fantastic. If the twist isn't very good, the whole movie is ruined, but if the twist is done well, it makes the movie fantastic. M. Night Shyamalan is experienced in both of these situations, but a good example of twist done right comes with his latest movie, The Visit. A thriller doesn't always have to have a crazy twist, but it should at least have a fantastic conclusion. A final confrontation that has you at the edge of your seat. Once again, I'm not going to spoil The Perfect Guy by telling you what happens at the end, but this conclusion is not satisfying at all.

The final thing I want to talk about is the element of realism. A thriller is much more effective if it is at least based on events that could or have happened in real life. Psychological thrillers are excellent because mental challenges are very real and are experienced by a lot of people to one degree or another. Thus they play with our minds because they feel very real. Obviously psychological thrillers aren't the only good thrillers. That's just one example. But in the events the movie should be believable. Last year's No Good Deed was a home invasion thriller. Those can be terrifying because a lot of us fear the possibility of someone breaking into our home at night. In these terms, The Perfect Guy does fine. Having to deal with stalkers or relationships gone really bad is a real thing. What The Perfect Guy fails in is another aspect of realism. If this situation were to play out in real life, how would things turn out? If you can say that what happened in the movie is actually what would happen in real life or close to it, then you have a better thriller. The Perfect Guy is missing that. Several events towards the end had me in disbelief. If a guy like this really did show up in a girl's life, things would turn out much different. I'm not going to spoil things by giving specifics, but it got pretty ridiculous.

I hope this has been a satisfying review for you. It's a bit tricky because everything worth talking about comes in the second half of the movie. I want to dive into that and tell you exactly why that second half doesn't work, but I can't because I'm not going to spoil the movie for you. I could write a spoiler review, but this isn't the type of movie that I feel warrants a spoiler review, so instead I hope that my discussion of what makes a good thriller has been interesting enough and helps give you a general idea of why this movie doesn't work. In summary, a good thriller needs a compelling villain, interesting characters, a suspenseful build throughout that leads to a satisfying conclusion, and an element of realism both in terms of themes the movie discusses and the basic story line. The Perfect Guy isn't what I would call a bad movie. It has a good cast of actors who do a good job with what they are given. It's shot very well and has a good score. In terms of film making, there are a lot of positives. It's not one of those movies that is painful to watch or hard to sit through. It's just lacking in pretty much every category that I've discussed that makes a good thriller. Thus when I got to the end, I felt very unsatisfied. If you want to see a good thriller, go find The Gift. That might still be playing in a few theaters. If that's not available, go check out M. Night Shyamalan's new movie The Visit. That one isn't as good as The Gift, but it's satisfying in its own right. The Perfect Guy is not. Thus I am going to award the movie a 5/10.

No comments:

Post a Comment