More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 14.29%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap85.71%

1 review, 1 rating

Latest Reviews

Transit by Jay Seaver

Dragged Across Concrete by Peter Sobczynski

Crossing, The (2018) by Jay Seaver

Us by Peter Sobczynski

More than Blue (2018) by Jay Seaver

Three Husbands by Jay Seaver

Furie by Jay Seaver

Tell It to the Bees by Rob Gonsalves

Green Book by Rob Gonsalves

Brink, The by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Past Midnight
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Jack Sommersby

"Rutger Hauer Slumming, Again."
1 stars

Now and again Hauer picks an undemanding script that winds up working, like "Split Second" or "Blind Fury." This one ain't it, folks.

The tired thriller Past Midnight would have been better titled Past Common Sense for all the oodles of logic loopholes constantly plaguing it throughout. It takes a well-worn story premise and proceeds to insult our intelligence by, first, leaning on endless cliches, second, in neglecting to offer up any decent plot twists, third, in not making the slightest effort to make anything even remotely credible. The terrible screenplay by Frank Norwood sets the story in a rural Washington town where one Ben Jordan (played by Rutger Hauer), convicted for the murder of his pregnant wife fifteen years prior who was stabbed thirty-six times), has just been released five years early for good behavior; he reports to his assigned social worker, Laura Matthews (Natasha Richardson), to see about finding employment, which she tells him won't be easy because of his past. Right after their visit, impressed by his gentle manner, his one-hundred-forty-six IQ, his attaining a master's degree in Psychology while in jail, she begins to doubt whether he is actually guilty of his crime, which is more so the story can progress than due to any semblance of believability. She relays as much to ex-lover/best friend Steve (Clancy Brown), who strongly disagrees, as does the detective who worked the case, explaining that Ben was found passed-out drunk in his car afterward with the wife's blood on him and his fingerprints on the knife, along with an eight-millimeter tape showing the wife joyful and then terrified of the person filming her when the film ends right when a knife appears in a hand. She then starts interviewing witnesses and others related to the case, and we don't need to say out loud that she's "playing Nancy Drew" because that's exactly what Steve tells her (and more for the audience's sake than hers, as if we weren't computing this thus far). Jordan maintains his innocence but doesn't want Laura to pursue it because he doesn't want old wounds opened up and all that, but she persists; and wouldn't you know, eventually (though Hauer and Richardson haven't worked up an iota of romantic chemistry) the two start a torrid love affair. Naturally, Steve is concerned, not only not believing that Ben is innocent but that someone who could commit a personal vicious crime as he was convicted of could not have been reconditioned in jail. And right after Laura learns that she's pregnant, she's informed by Ben's previous best friend that his young son, who claimed at the time that someone other than Ben entered the house that fateful night (how this person could've been near the scene isn't explained), was lying. So now the movie, at the halfway mark, has Laura doing a one-eighty and suspecting Ben is in fact guilty. Or is he?

Maybe Past Midnight could be excused of some of its inanities if it were persuasively made, with helpings of agility that could keep us off-balance so we didn't have so much downtime to spot the flaws, but the director, Jan Eliasberg, is mediocre in all aspects. The pacing is dreadfully slow (a no-no in any thriller), the compositions negligently inexpressive (the camera, forever forcing close-ups on us, never seems to be in the right place), and the attempts at suspense (even resorting to someone entering Laura's house while she's in the shower) are timed with the acuteness of a drunken bee. Of course, even the most able craftsman would have trouble lending verity to such puerile proceedings when the writing is such a shambles. Norwood throws in red herrings to throw us off but are easy to see through a couple of zip codes away, and the whodunit angle is flubbed due to too much screen time given to a supposed incidental character who we wouldn't be seeing so much of it he were incidental, with the actor's hammy work accentuating this even further. Besides, Ben's guilt or non-guilt is plain as day due to a faultily-conceived pre-credit slow-motion sequence: we see Ben grief-stricken and panicked rushing out to his car with blood all over him; if this were shown us later on as told to Laura by Ben, there'd be apt room for doubt. Add to this some truly wretched dialogue that never sounds like conversational speech, baffling inconsistencies like why Ben is forever turning up at Laura's office and home before they start a romance (unlikely) yet doesn't do so when she suspects him and is putting him off (even more so), Ben somehow managing to live in a nice motel and wear very nice clothes off just a meatpacker's pay and before that job right out of prison, and his attainment of that master's degree introduced but not incorporated later on. (Can't ex-cons work in the psychology profession? And if not, why did he bother getting the degree in the first place?) Brown, usually cast as a villain, is appealing as a well-meaning nerd type who loves to fish. Richardson, more talented than charismatic for a leading role, valiantly tries finding facets and corners to her underwhelming heroine that just aren't there. And Hauer, both charismatic and talented, sleepwalks through another unchallenging character in another forgettable movie, relying on past mannerisms and tics that never coalesce into anything definitive. Kudos, however, to the shrill, overbearing music score, for it manages to drown out some of the dreadful words coming out of their mouths. A small favor, this, but a favor nevertheless.

The DVD is letterboxed, but the transfer is just awful -- the telecine operator must have been drunk on the job. No special features.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 04/14/12 07:31:42
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

9/18/14 M Collins Maybe you've watched too many movies. I liked it. 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  DVD: 17-Aug-2004



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast