Sunday, October 7, 2012

Passion Play (2011)

Nate (Mickey Rourke) works as a jazz musician at a local nightclub. Rourke’s character looks like one of those lowlife bums, who you couldn’t trust, and he needs some money. Nate is knocked out and kidnapped by an assassin (Chuck Lidell). Nate’s execution is seconds away, and he’s in the middle of a vast desert, so Nate is seemingly alone. But Nate is unexpectedly saved by a group of Indians? They shoot and kill the assassin, and Nate wonders into this bizarre circus. Nate is instantly mesmerized by Lily (Megan Fox). Lily is a sideshow performer, who has real bird-like wings attached to her back. The circus owner (Rhys Ifans) is attached to Lily, and he doesn’t approve of Nate’s affections, so he wants to kill him. Sam (Ifans) is about to deliver the final blow, but Lily drives a truck into the circus tent. She saves Nate’s life, and they escape the bizarre circus together. Nate and Lily begin to fall in love, but Nate’s life is still in danger. Happy Shannon (Bill Murray) is a feared and wealthy gangster, who wants to end Nate’s life. Rourke’s character had sex with his wife, so of course Shannon isn’t too happy about this. At first, Nate sees the bird woman (Fox) as a ticket for survival. He wants to use Lily as a special attraction, because he thinks people will pay good money to see the bird woman, but his feelings get in the way of his chance at freedom.

First of all, the on-screen chemistry between Megan Fox and Mickey Rourke isn’t there. Nate and Lily are supposed to be deeply in love, but the strong bond between these two wasn’t believable. The story wants you to believe in this fairytale type of love story, but Fox and Rourke just go through the motions here. I didn’t believe in them as a couple, and I didn’t want to feel for their characters. Also, why are these two in love? Why are they willing to put their lives on the line for each other? Lily saved Nate’s life, but Nate doesn’t know too much about Lily’s life. He really doesn’t know who she is. Nate actually tried to sell Lily, because he wanted to save his own life. He’s a broke loser with a death sentence. Rourke and Fox are very awkward as a couple, and the very noticeable age difference doesn’t help anything. Rourke’s character was supposed to be the guy, who was down on his luck. He was supposed to a guy, who you wanted to root for. And Fox’s character was supposed to be this angelic beauty, but I couldn’t buy into this. When I looked at Rourke, I just saw this creepy and shady loser, and I just saw an attractive woman, who had wings, when I looked at Fox, because her character wasn’t “magical” in any way.

Bill Murray’s character is another major problem here. Murray did a fine job with acting, but Murray’s character is supposed to be this feared gangster. Happy Shannon (Murray) is supposed to be this cold-blooded and ruthless bad ass, but he just looks like a clown here. I’ve seen this same type of character in Murray’s comedies, but he was supposed to be funny in those films. Murray’s character isn’t believable at all here, and I actually spent a lot of time laughing at his performance, because he was funny.

And I get it. Megan Fox is a woman who has wings, and they made sure to push Fox’s special gift throughout the entire film. But you can only get so many “OH MY GOD SHE HAS WINGS!” reactions from the audience. They put so much focus on Fox’s wings in this film, and this really did drive me nuts after a while. Nate was obsessed with Lily’s wings, and at times, I thought this was the only reason he loved her. “Hey! I get to have sex with this hot chick! And she has wings!” This was the feeling I got from Rourke’s character. Yeah, Lily’s wings are a special part of her character (for obvious reasons), but they didn’t have to run this into the ground so much. I actually thought the wings were more important than Lily, and the various scenes, where Lily spreads her wings do become very tiresome after a while.

The majority of the acting wasn’t bad here, and this film did have some potential at first, but the ending was horrendous.


Happy Shannon is holding Lily captive at one of his nightclubs. Lily has become a sideshow attraction, who stands in a glass case for the audience’s amusement. Nate eventually finds Lily, and he rescues her from Shannon. Shannon and his gang of cronies corner Lily and Nate on a rooftop. There’s no way out, but Nate has an idea….he wants use Lily’s wings to fly to safety??? Lily is hesitant at first. She doesn’t believe she can fly, but Nate leaps off of the building. Fearing for his life, Lily jumps after him, and she uses her wings to fly. Lily holds on to Nate, and the happy couple fly away, while this overwhelmingly cheesy theme music plays in the background.

Yeah, I actually thought about throwing some hard blunt object through my TV screen, when I saw this. This ending was corny and sappy, and the “let’s fly away together” garbage was so unrealistic and impossible. Lily is as thin as thin can be, and Nate is a fully grown man, so how could she hold him and fly at the same time? Fox’s character has bird-like wings, so they can’t be strong enough to carry the weight of two people at the same time, as they fly through the air. Yes. I know, I sound very nitpicky here, but I was so pissed off towards the end of the film, and everything was annoying me.

Also, I have a message for MMA fans, Chuck Liddell’s presence shouldn’t draw you to this film. Liddell doesn’t say one word in this film, and his character doesn’t last long here.

**End spoilers**

Passion Play features a VERY corny and ridiculous love story, and I wanted to puke into the nearest waste basket, as I watched this film. They tried to give the audience a magical fairytale love story here, but everything just feels so damn strange, and the story didn’t make too much sense. Megan Fox really did give her best effort, but her performance didn’t help this film. Fox should be thankful for her good looks, because her career has taken a huge dive, and her departure from the Transformers franchise didn’t help anything. Rourke's performance was solid enough, and Bill Murray delivered a fine performance, but they couldn’t save this disaster, because Passion Play is an awful film.

It’s a shame. Mickey Rourke’s comeback was a big story a few years ago, and he did deliver an Oscar worthy performance in The Wrestler. But Rourke has also had his fair share of stinkers, and the big comeback has been very streaky. Rourke was fantastic in The Wrestler, he was a good villain in Iron Man 2, and he was enjoyable in The Expendables, but Passion Play and The Informers were horrendous, and Killshot was average at best. Rourke isn’t a young guy anymore, and his career has already had enough ups and downs, so I don’t know if he could pull off another big comeback.

Final Rating: 1/10

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