Factory, The


Boilerplate Thriller

Main Cast: John Cusack, Jennifer Carpenter

Director: Morgan O’Neill

Why do I keep expecting great things from John Cusack?  As I think back, I can’t recall where in the world this expectation might have come from.  Sixteen CandlesBetter Off DeadSay Anything?  Those were all a long time ago and while there have been a lot of movies in the interim, some of them quite good, none of them quite explain my conviction that if he’s in something it will be great.  Because, usually, it isn’t (I’m looking at you, Serendipity).

The Factory is a thriller that takes place in Buffalo.  Using the famously snowy winters as a backdrop, police officers Mike (Cusack) and Kelsey (Jennifer Carpenter – she’s Debra from Dexter) have been told to back away from an investigation into the disappearances of prostitutes that is now a year old.  Mike is convinced that these

John Cusack by Gerald Geronimo
John Cusack

girls met with foul play and that the perpetrator is still out there, waiting to use the impending bad weather as his cover to strike again.

In what comes as no surprise whatsoever, Mike is right.  The movie follows his doggedly determined pursuit of his mysterious villain.  And yes, there are twists that are supposed to make the whole thing more interesting.

In some ways, The Factory works as a simple, boilerplate thriller.  The good guys are appropriately beleaguered by The Man, the bad guy is appropriately genius in his villainy, you won’t necessarily see every plot point coming a mile away and the performances are adequate.  What that leaves is a giant heap of mediocrity that, while not actively noxious, doesn’t particularly warrant 2 hours of your life.

Jennifer Carpenter by Genevieve
Jennifer Carpenter

The most successful portion of The Factory is the villain.  Creepy and scary and possessing that special type of charming menace that makes your skin crawl – this is a well played character.  Dallas Roberts (you’ll recognize him as Milton the doctor from The Walking Dead) handles the role with a really nice touch of innocence, just adding to the evil.

The rest, well, the rest is just bland and average.  Cusack and Carpenter go through the motions, but never really evoke much feeling.  Sonya Walger does what she can with a small part as Mike’s wife and Mae Whitman is thoroughly detestable as his bratty teenage daughter.  The plot controls the characters and director Morgan O’Neill just doesn’t give anyone much room to do anything special.

Overall, The Factory is just one of a million average thrillers that might be okay for a rainy day when you have a cold and don’t want to move further than the remote, but it’s absolutely nothing special in any way.  2 stars and another disappointment from John Cusack.

photos by Gerald Geronimo and Genevieve

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