Saturday, September 19, 2020

Possessor (2020) - Movie Review

The Movie: Possessor

The Director: Brandon Cronenberg

The Cast: Christopher Abbott, Andrea Riseborough, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sean Bean, Rossif Sutherland, Tuppence Middleton

The Story: Possessor follows an agent who works for a secretive organization that uses brain-implant technology to inhabit other people's bodies - ultimately driving them to commit assassinations for high-paying clients.

The Review:
Watching this movie, it's pretty clear that director Brandon Cronenberg has chosen to follow in the footsteps of his legendary father David Cronenberg, the man behind genre classics like Scanners, The Fly, and Videodrome just to name a few. Possessor is very atmospheric and stylized and has the look and feel of a genre film from the 1980's and I feel like this is both one of its greatest assets and one of its biggest weaknesses.

The storytelling is very deliberate and the director will sit inside of a scene for a while to let you take it all in and absorb everything that's happening. The issue I have with this is that I'm not sure if the story needed that type of treatment. This is definitely not an action spectacle or a shocking horror thriller although it does have some of each of those things, the latter much more than the former although I don't know if there's enough happening to justify the deep psychological dive that Cronenberg attempts to take with this movie.

If you really think about it for a moment, the main plot device, using brain implant technology to create unwitting assassins is also the main plot device of The Naked Gun, one of the all time classic comedy movies ever made. I mean, at some point the organization that uses the tech in this movie could use it to take out the Queen or some other world leader, right? Seems like that's where it would ultimately lead to. I will also say that there is a bit of Inception in this movie with how messing with other people's brains can have adverse effects on your own. Sort of a cautionary tale, I guess.

The cast for this movie is actually pretty fantastic and is probably the number one thing that I liked about the whole production. Jennifer Jason Leigh is always phenomenal and she is nothing less than that here. Her character doesn't do anything extraordinary, it's more just her presence on screen that is effortlessly captivating in ways most actors will never achieve. Sean Bean is in the movie which immediately makes you wonder if he is going to die at some point before the credits begin to role. I'll let you find out for yourself. Andrea Riseborough has the lead role in the film and she does a great job even if her character inhabits Christopher Abbott's character for a third of the movie.

Another big plus for the movie is the graphic, no holds barred nature of the kills scenes. They don't happen very often, but when they come around the payoff is big, jarring, and blood gets everywhere. If you are squeamish and don't like the idea of a fireplace poker being jabbed into someone's face then look the other way. All the special effects, whether they are done practically or digitally all keep the consistent 80's vibe with the rest of the film so the entire production is very cohesive, especially from a visual standpoint.

The Verdict:
Possessor is a good movie and is an interesting exploration into the genres of science fiction and horror. If anything, this movie is the son telling the father that he can make movies like that, too. Now, it will be interesting to see if the son can lay claim to his own piece of cinematic real estate or will he continue to stay in the same lane the father created over the last few decades.

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