Endure is a finely directed thriller with a good performance from Judd Nelson, thick stache and all, but the story itself is far too simplistic that it would’ve been better suited for a television series like “Criminal Minds” or “CSI”. I also had a problem with some of the behind-the-scenes decisions between the choppy editing and an overbearing and, at times, needless score during some key scenes.
Naedomi | R – 92 min. – $29.98 | May 31, 2011
Directed by: Joe O’Brien
Writer(s): Joe O’Brien (written by)
Cast: Judd Nelson, Devon Sawa, Tom Arnold, Clare Kramer, Joey Lauren Adams
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
Ever seen an episode of the CBS procedural dramas “Without a Trace” or “Criminal Minds”? Well, that’s basically the set-up and breakdown of Joe O’Brien’s feature debut Endure, a by-the-book, paint-by-numbers, A to Z, insert review cliché here, suspense-thriller.
Emory Lane (JUDD NELSON) is a veteran police detective who, while at the bedside of his ailing wife (JOEY LAUREN ADAMS), is called in to what seems like a normal deer vs. car vehicle accident where the driver was killed. But what state troopers found in the trunk is why Lane was requested: it is a Polaroid of a petrified young woman gagged and bound. When they look in the back seat, they find that it has been customized to secure a person and on the keychain is a key to a set of handcuffs. It is determined that the woman (CLARE KRAMER) was recently chained to a tree – which she has as we see when the movie opens – and the race is on to find out who and where she is.
Helping in the investigation is a young pup transfer from Washington State named Detective Zeth Arnold (DEVON SAWA), though his appearance is not too welcomed by the gruff Lane. Together they investigate various locations, such as the dead driver’s home, interview neighbors, friends of the kidnapped female and the basic legwork of a police investigation trying to get closer to the woman and, as we later learn, his accomplice (TOM ARNOLD) who is also after the woman for his own horrific purposes. Meanwhile, the film cuts back to the poor woman as she goes through her ordeal alone in the woods for days without food or water, waiting for hope that she will be rescued before it’s too late.
Endure, for the debut of a writer and director, isn’t a bad film but it’s far from extraordinary or even memorable. The script itself and the cornerstone of the plot might’ve been great for a TV series episode or maybe a TV movie but as a motion picture this thriller doesn’t exactly lend itself to exactly being a thrilling flick to watch, even at a relatively short 90-minute running time.
The cast itself, though none of them are special, give it their best shot. Judd Nelson proves that he can take myriad types of roles, this time as a good guy rather than a corrupt cop or sadistic serial killer. Yeah, his mustache is distracting but I have to say this is probably one of his best performances I’ve seen in quite a whole.
By the way, the part of the nameless psycho goes to Tom Arnold who really doesn’t have a whole lot to do except be creepy (and if I recall, only has a sentence to two of dialogue). Devon Sawa in the mean time makes his return after a taking a few years off from acting and here he plays up the new guy needing to prove himself to the veteran well enough and actually turns in a half-decent performance.
The rest of the cast is alright. You’ve got Joey Lauren Adams cashing in a small paycheck to lie in bed dying from a heart defect while lovingly looking into Judd Nelson’s eyes as they try to really deal with her condition. It’s not a great performance for sure especially when you compare it to what she did in Chasing Amy, but it also avoided the dreadful movie-of-the-week vomit-enducing crap you see on the Hallmark Channel. And in an Honorable Mention award, I will give some props to Clare Kramer as she gets the thankless role as the damsel in distress and her whole performance is to look terrified while not being able to move. It’s not a meaty role but it is one that I at least admire.
There are a couple areas where the film does fail. Although I think director O’Brien presents the right atmosphere appropriate for “CSI”, it is the editing and score that really drags the film down. Throughout the movie there are several cuts to short scenes that felt out of place and didn’t lend to a cohesive or consistent picture and only break up the flow. When it comes to the score, the old adage of less is more would’ve been advised. One scene that stood out is when Nelson is the hospital bedside with his wife and rather than letting the scene stand on its own, a cheesy (and cheap) piano cue keeps playing over what could’ve been a moving scene. There are other instances as well where I think no music would’ve made for a more dramatic or suspenseful scene.
All in all, Endure isn’t a bad film especially from a first-time, feature-length director but as far as the premise goes, it’s a little too thin on substance and more suited for television. Even so, there are far worse films out there and although this won’t make anywhere near the top of my list for the year, you can’t go wrong just giving it a try.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.0/5
The only thing on the disc is a simple Behind the Scenes (6:41) featurette.
VIDEO – 3.75/5
Endure is presented with a good anamorphic widescreen transfer (1.78 aspect ratio). There isn’t a whole lot of color, even during the daytime yet it still the lighter scenes didn’t show much in the case of pixilation. I can also say the same about the night scenes for which there are plenty to judge.
AUDIO – 3.0/5
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is standard all the way around and although some of the sound effects (like doors opening, gunfire, etc) were fine, the dialogue levels seemed to be awfully low at times. This doesn’t distract from the film as a whole, though so I’m giving this an average rating.
OVERALL – 2.5/5
Overall, Endure is a finely directed thriller with a good performance from Judd Nelson, thick stache and all, but the story itself is far too simplistic that it would’ve been better suited for a television series like “Criminal Minds” or “CSI”. I also had a problem with some of the behind-the-scenes decisions between the choppy editing and an overbearing and, at times, needless score during some key scenes.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman