Sunday, 24 September 2017

A Cure for Wellness (2017)

An ambitious young man is dispatched by his company to retrieve the company CEO from a retreat in Switzerland. Only this retreat seems to be hiding a darker secret.

'A Cure for Wellness' came out in most territories (including the UK and USA) back in February. But, like most films I miss, it didn't come out in my local cinema (despite the incessant advertising before each film) and I didn't have the time to go elsewhere for it. But it is a 2017 film and I have spent the last week catching up on a few films I missed from the year so why not chuck up a quick review.

This is director Gore Verbinski's third feature film since leaving the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' series a decade ago. His other two films, 'Rango' and 'The Lone Ranger', were visually solid (as you might expect) but otherwise lacking, something that can also be said of 'A Cure for Wellness'.

The film seems most at home when presenting the creepy clinic stuff and various experimentations/treatments/tortures with the residents. This is not surprising when you look at Verbinski's previous films and how he has a thing for some of this more twisted stuff, albeit in a way that doesn't stray into gross-out and such but enough to make you feel uncomfortable (hence why you may end up feeling very concerned about the state of your teeth). Visually, the film also does quite well, effectively portraying the clinical and somewhat surreal feel of the 'Wellness Centre' and the various hallucinations the character has.

It's a pity, then, that all that is wasted on a plot that is so disappointingly predictable and stupid. It certainly doesn't help to have the trailers show practically everything from start to finish but, ignoring that, you'd still see where it is all headed and wish it really wasn't going that way. Part of the reason it does what it does is so that it can get to the kind of things I mentioned in the previous paragraph regardless of how cliched or nonsensical it may be.

However, that does not justify why it spends just under 150 minutes setting up and explaining as obviously as it can the central 'mystery' which trundles down the painfully foreseeable path (which should end sooner but the main character is a bit slow of the uptake) to a really dumb conclusion. I spent most of the time wishing it wouldn't do the things it would then go and do. It could have taken a far more intriguing route and actually tried to create a mystery worth exploring but, alas, it opts for the obvious, the stupid, and ultimately very boring.

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