THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
The Factory available on DVD and for download 2/19!
The Factory is sort of a torture-porn version of Taken. If that idea sounds a bit beyond its expiration date, that's because the movie was filmed all the way back in 2008 and has been sitting on a shelf ever since. (The delay is very apparent in one scene, when the lead character asks his wife if she knows what a Nintendo Wii is.) It will finally see a release via DVD and digital download on February 19. While certainly not as unbearable as some movies in its genre, there's nothing here you haven't seen before.
John Cusack plays Mike Fletcher, a Buffalo cop who has spent years looking for the psycho who kidnaps hookers on the city streets. Catching him has been difficult because there are never any bodies found. Fletcher theorizes that the women might actually be alive somewhere. When his teenage daughter Abby (played by “Parenthood” star Mae Whitman) is mistaken for a prostitute and snatched by the guy, Fletcher and his partner, Kelsey Walker (Jennifer Carpenter), amp up the investigation. Meanwhile, the psycho, Carl Gemeaux (Dallas Roberts of “The Walking Dead”), throws Abby in his basement with the other girls. Eventually it becomes clear to her – and to us – what he's keeping his victims for.
For the most part, The Factory is a derivative but not entirely unwatchable thriller. It has the requisite scenes of women being subjected to torture (although, in this case, it's not physical in quite the way you'd expect), and lots of moments in which Cusack looks very intense while pursuing clues. Every so often, Fletcher boils with rage, exclaiming that he's got to find his daughter and make this sicko pay! You know the drill, right? It all plays out here in a paint-by-numbers manner.
There is, however, one thing that really sinks The Factory, and that is a very amateurish bit of storytelling. Early on, the screenplay goes out of its way to give us a seemingly irrelevant piece of information about one of the characters. When the story reveals what Gemeaux is doing with his victims, this knowledge tips off what is supposed to be a “surprise” plot twist in the last ten minutes. At the end, The Factory uses flashbacks to show you how all the pieces fit together, but any moderately attentive viewer will have seen each and every clue as they presented themselves. I easily figured out the twist before the halfway point.
Cusack is reliable as always, and Mae Whitman does some solid supporting work. But a good cast can't save the material. The Factory telegraphs where it's going so early in the game that it creates a sense of impatience in the viewer. You figure the case out long before Mike Fletcher does, which only makes this already routine thriller seem even more lackluster.
( 1/2 out of four)
The Factory is rated R for strong violence including disturbing images, language throughout and some sexual material. The running time is 1 hour and 44 minutes.
Buy a copy of my book, "Straight-Up Blatant: Musings From The Aisle Seat," on sale now at Lulu.com! Paperback and Kindle editions also available at Amazon.com!