Luke Wilson, what the hell are you doing man!? You really need to have a serious talk to your agent.
It’s not enough that Owen’s little brother with the unusual jawline is being confined to the depths of hell that is ‘garbage movies’, he’s down there continually playing the role of the pathetic love interest, boyfriend or husband.
You could call him somewhat of a ‘misleading’ man.
It all started so promisingly with the now 38-year-old, with prominent roles in writer-director Wes Anderson’s independant cult hits like Bottle Rocket (1996), Rushmore (1997) and later The Royal Tennenbaums (2001).
But mostly its been Legally Blonde 1 and 2 (with Reese Witherspoon), Charlie’s Angels 1 and 2 (with Cameron Diaz and co), Blonde Ambition (with Jessica Simpson), Committed (with Heather Graham), and My Super Ex-Girlfriend (with Uma Thurman).
Never has Wilson’s downfall been more evident than while enduring the horror that is the cliche-ridden suspence thriller Vacancy (2007), the actor this time alongside Kate Beckinsale.
Borrowing heavily from Psycho, and a host of others, it’s the story of a young couple who are trapped in a motel, trying to avoid being the stars of the manager’s next snuff film.
It’s definitely an interesting premise, but fails miserably in its execution, starting with the writers and their utter laziness and predictability, and ending with Wilson and his terrible going-through-the-motions-type performance. There’s other factors (at work, or not at work) but we’ll focus on these two.
Wilson plays David Fox, an obnoxious asshole who puts his wife Amy (Beckinsale) in harm’s way at every possible corner, but one of the people we are supposed to be routing for. He ends up being the first one you want ‘offed’.
(Spoilers ahead) First, he sets up his old lady as a diversion for one of the masked killers tormenting them, and then lets her do all the dirty work in topping each of their protagonists single-handedly while he’s laying on the ground sooking about being stabbed in the stomach.
The writers, obviously, must take some of the blame for the way his character is portrayed.
The guy is hopeless, cutting himself after he smashes a mirror in the bathroom to make a weapon he never even uses. He’ll bitch to his missus about her being on Zoloft, but against the killers he’s about as effective as a garden gnome, and as soft as a jelly fish – without the sting. No backbone.
What makes other movies of this kind work (soemtimes) is the semblance of realism. This-could-happen-to-us kind of stuff.
Sure, it’s escapism, but as a thriller Vacancy is the epitome of unoriginality. The couple are about to get a divorce after the tragic death of their son, but renew their love through this horrible ordeal confronting them both. Been done hasn’t it? And more than once.
Then, there’s how they got into this mess in the first place – their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere so are forced to take shelter in the seedy, empty motel down the road, managed by a creepy Mason (Frank Whaley).
Luckily for them they gain an edge over their initially unseen tormentors after they just happen to find the tapes of the previous snuff murders that occurred in their very room – on top of the damn VCR!
There is some real intelligence at work here – from the killers, the writers and we mustn’t forget the director who is aptly named Nimród Antal.
You have a situation in which an old cop who responds to a 911 call at the motel in the middle of the night is gutted by one of the killers. Then, once Beckinsale is done saving the day, early the next morning, makes another 911 call.
The conversation goes something like this “we’ve already sent an officer out there”. (Yeah, five hours ago!) She responds, “he’s dead!”. “Oh, okay, we’ll send another one” … Oh great, you’ve been so helpful.
It’s as ridiculous a moment as it is pointless. Really sums up the movie.
Oh, and of course, Wilson makes the big dramatic back-from-the-dead awakening at the end of the film. Sadly.
Don’t stop. Keep on driving if you can.