Choose to See This One

Main Cast: Katheryn Winnick

Director: Marcus Graves

Sometimes movies are just blah and there’s nothing you or director Marcus Graves and/or writers Brandon Camp and Mike Thompson (both were writers of Dragonfly and on the “John Doe” TV series) can do about it. You’ve got a killer on the loose who confronts his victims–first a lawyer, then a concert pianist, then a fashion model–and presents them with a choice. For the lawyer, he makes the teenage daughter decide who dies, her mother or her lawyer father. For the pianist it’s lose your hearing or your fingers, while the model is told to choose between her eyesight or her beauty. Not the most original concept–Saw did it first and better–but still workable and still begs the question “where is it going from here?”

Well, from here it goes to journalism major and daughter of the local sheriff, Fiona Wagner (Katheryn Winnick, “Vikings”) who keeps receiving cryptic messages from the killer. Why her? I’m sure we’ll find out in the last ten minutes just before Fiona finds some hidden reserve of strength and bashes the killer’s brains out with something. Until then, all we can do is sit back and try to enjoy the ride.

Is the ride enjoyable? I don’t know if I’d go THAT far. It’s entertaining and held my interest as I tried to figure out the killer’s motivation (of course, once I DID figure it out, the movie took on a whole new level of tedium it never recovered from), but for the most part the only really enjoyable part was Katheryn Winnick. I mean, she’s a looker, let’s face it. As for her character Fiona, why would the daughter of the sheriff who is investigating these killings ever keep information from her father, other than because she wants to be a hard-hitting reporter? Ho hum, character development. Ho hum, exposition. Ho hum, mother whose death was ruled a suicide even though there was nothing leading up to her death that would corroborate the plausibility of said suicide. Ho hum, Kevin Pollack is playing Kevin Pollack playing a cop.

In the end, writers Camp and Thompson bring the plot full circle and tie up nearly every loose end as far as motivation is concerned. Unfortunately that doesn’t solve the problem of the movie just becoming a cliché of itself once that final piece falls into place and the audience knows what’s going on well before the characters do. For movies like this to work, I think it’s best that the audience and the characters figure these things out together. A second viewing, with that foreknowledge already in hand, can point to that same conclusion early on if the writer is up to the challenge of planting those seeds in an inconspicuous manner. But, really, the audience shouldn’t know what’s going on so much sooner than the characters. Very few movies are so well made that they can stand up to something like that and still be awesome.

Director Graves (this is his first movie) has an eye for tension and suspense, and can build a decent mood, but what neither the writers nor the director managed here was to make me care one way or another about the characters. Fiona is worried? Oh, ok. The sheriff is in danger? Oh, really? How interesting. The killer is RIGHT BEHIND THEM!?? Oh. Well, these things happen.

In the end, Choose is nothing more than a killer on the loose movie with a backstory and MO cribbed from a dozen other sources. They’re not even repurposed into anything exciting or original, leaving Choose just another anonymous movie that, a few months from now, I won’t even remember the plot to. It’s worth a viewing because Winnick is more upfront and center than on “Vikings”, but if you’re looking for a genuinely intriguing take on the killer theme, I’m sure you can do better than this one. Then again, that choice is, as we see in this movie, entirely up to you to deal with the consequences.

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