Rel. Jan 9 2009
Dir. Jennifer Lynch
Bill Pullman, Julia Ormond, Michael Ironside
Jennifer (daughter of David) Lynch hasn't made a movie since 1993's bizarre pseudo S & M mess Boxing Helena. While Surveillance is nowhere near as bad as that piece of soft-core 'erotic' nonsense, it does suffer from similar problems of style, tone and scripting.
The premise of the film is that the FBI are tracking a pair of serial killers with the help of three different survivors; a drug using teen, a little girl and a police officer. Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond are the agents entrusted with the task of deciphering the mystery. They both give fairly good performances and handle the weak script with as much dignity and guile as they can. Through no fault of his own, cult character actor Michael Ironside (of V, Total Recall and Starship Troopers fame) gives a disappointingly innocuous performance as the local Captain. His character has little to do and seems more of an afterthought than anything else.
While the perversion of authority theme is dealt with reasonably well and at some length - the local officers do an entertaining and disturbing 'good cop/bad cop' routine - there is a huge gaping wound of a flaw lying at the heart of the movie. Without giving too much away, any moviegoer who has seen more than a handful of thrillers or horror movies will see the twist coming a light year away. It is far too obvious - many will suss it after 10 minutes - and it irrevocably damages the film. This is a shame as there are some interesting, albeit underdeveloped ideas floating around. The acting is solid enough and at times there is a genuine air of trademark Lynchian family weirdness. However, the lack of any real sort of motivation for the murders, limp dialogue, terrible characterisation and the 10 ton clanger of a 'twist' renders Surveillance lifeless and ultimately pointless.