by Chris Parry
The practice of Canadian companies and funding bodies unquestioningly funding any and all projects that Atom Egoyan signs his name to must end immediately. Not that this, his first foray into action thrillers, is necessarily the worst film of all time. In fact, it's actually quite enjoyable in parts. But the money blown on it could have funded eighteen smaller films that actually had a shot at the box office - or one close to this one, only which had the one secret ingredient needed to make a profit... an actual star.Three young adults with various talents at the business of breaking into stuff combine to spend their spare time concocting foolproof burglaries which they'll never actually play out, for the sole purpose of 'the high' they achieve in coming up with an unbeatable plan. That is, until one day their plans for a heist are stolen by a bad guy, who forces them to pull off the heist of the century. The rest isn't so much history, as it is cinema cliche.
"Someone lost their job over this one."
"I believe this diary is yours? It's an impressive read: bold, yet meticulous strategies. I love the one where you tried to figure out how to pinch the Stanley Cup. It's very... Canadian."
And so is Foolproof, a valiant effort at dragging the Canadian film industry into the vacuous, yet profitable, game of big budget star vehicle blockbusters. Foolproof received the largest ever marketing push for a Canadian movie, and also garnered the industry's widest ever local release. It starred Ryan Reynolds, who had made decent money in the teen romp Van Wilder, and could thus be considered a budding star big enough to get a film opened in the US, so as the days rolled by on the way to Foolproof's release, you'd have to think that the Canadian film funding bodies that greenlit the thing were patting themselves on the back pretty hard. Heck, they even had a Pizza Hut promo going for the flick!
Well, they sure as heck ain't patting now. Foolproof made only $460,000 in Canada, and nothing in the US, which would have been fine if the thing hadn't cost $8m to make. And of course, the catcalls soon followed - "Canada can't make action movies, we should make small movies that nobody will see!"
Nothing could be further from the truth. When audiences spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the X-Men films, they were paying to see an extensively Canadian movie. When audiences begrudgingly went to see Paycheck, and avoided Catwoman altogether, those were two extensively Canadian movies they.. weren't seeing.
Canada can, and does, make big budget action blockbusters every day of the week, usually using American money, American scripts, and American actors. So why shouldn't Canada make a blockbuster of their own?
Well, first of all, when you're getting your money from the government, a government that insists that money not be spent on American actors, you're behind the eight ball from the outset. Sure, there are plenty of Canadians who are big 'American' stars (Mike Myers, Jim Carrey... Pam.. Anderson?), but their paychecks are generally far bigger than the $8m spent on Foolproof, and they sure as hell ain't doing volunteer work for the old country any time soon, especially now that their US citizenship is processed.
And thus we get Ryan Reynolds, who may well one day be a star, but that day is far from upon us right now. He's joined by the admittedly smokin' Kristin Booth, and Joris Jarsky, who looks like Johnny Knoxville's younger brother with a heroin habit. Those three find themselves engaged in a series of double-crosses against the man who would turn them into the cops should they not do as he asks - a feared villain named Leo the Touch (David Suchet). Double-cross, double-cross, double-cross, chase scene, double-cross, repeat.
I have to say that, despite the failure of this flick on multiple levels, I actually rather enjoyed it. And no small part of that enjoyment came from Kristin Booth's prominence in the film. While Reynolds is reliable and does exactly what is asked of him (unfortunately, not nearly enough), Booth is the heart, soul and libido of this film to the extent where everyone and everything else becomes surplus to requirements. Her character is smart, strong, tricky and flushed out, and the way she plays it is with intelligence, style, grace and wit. So ten points there.
But everyone else is just so average, and by average I don't mean bad, because most films in this genre are WAY below average. Foolproof would have made a great movie of the week, or even a surprising indie treat if that had been the way it was played. Had the flick starred someone who could guarantee a US release, it probably would have made good coin too. But it's just too much to ask for a North American audience to go see people they don't know, in a movie that they could see ahead of time was not going to deliver them the kind of Matrix or X-Men-like thrills they're used to from the action genre.Foolproof is a good Canadian film, and a good low budget action film, but it isn't great in any respect, and it really needed to be to be worthy of anything more than passing interest. Perhaps if the soundtrack didn't play through the ENTIRE FILM without stopping it might have had more to recommend. Perhaps if the jokes on the 'deleted scenes' weren't more funny than the jokes in the film, it might have had more to recommend. But as a first real effort at a truly and entirely Canadian action movie, I'll give credit where it's due and say it's an interesting first step. Just a pity that step was such a big stumble that there's unlikely to be a second.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=9871&reviewer=1
originally posted: 11/04/04 12:07:46