(Breaking Glass Pictures)
Dir. Pedro C. Alonso
Review by Zakary McGaha
Feedback is a thriller that was quite fun, but providing feedback on it is…difficult. It’s not that I didn’t understand its more political aspirations; they’re pretty simple. However, the messages seemed mixed. Discerning exactly what the filmmakers were aiming for is difficult. The themes can be taken many different ways.
First off, it was cool seeing Richard Brake in a ghoulish role reminiscent of his “Foxy” character from Rob Zombie’s 3 From Hell, but his character in Feedback was a bit conflicted. On one hand, he wants to find his missing daughter, but on the other hand he’s just as confused as the viewer and is thus unable to stick to his guns (literally, he gets his gun taken away from him frequently).
The setting of this invasion movie is what drags it down a bit: it concerns a talk-radio host whose lavish studio is broken into while he’s on air. The fact that he is on air means we have to listen to his generic political ramblings which are disgustingly typical despite being presented as rebellious. They also wind up paralleling the mayhem that unfolds.
This wouldn’t be a problem if the story was given enough meat so as to overshadow the politics, but it wasn’t. Oddly, the political verbiage presented at the beginning, as well as throughout, seems to sneakily propel the film forward. Envision the story as a raft with the politics being the river.
Basically, the people who infiltrate the studio represent the “bad” political party full of conspiracy-minded skeptics (who happen to hold a secret grudge against our main protagonist) while the radio peeps are clean-cut, intelligent and oh-so-dangerous in their thought despite being given an uber-fancy, moneyed platform.
The odd thing is that the “bad guys” actually end up being right in many ways, yet they’re still strangely demonized. I’m debating the artistic intentions here. Is there supposed to be an “ah-ha” moment where we start rooting for the villains when we realize they were right? That would make sense, but this is never clearly translated visually.
Said villains are never shown in a positive light while our main character, who is revealed to have some real skeletons in his closet, is consistently eloquent, well-mannered, well-dressed, and in possession of the “correct” political opinions. All of this is quite definitely presented in such a way as to make us root for him, despite it becoming obvious throughout the film that he’s a less-than-noble fella. Is that the point? Are we supposed to see that political opinions, no matter how nice and/or sincere, often mask evil souls?
The very last scene of Feedback makes me think I’m correct in my last theory, but it’s hard to rest on that given the stark, over-simplified “good-guy/bad-guy, black-and-white” presentation that never lets up even when the tables are turned and the plot twists are taken.
The more I mull over this, the more confused I get because no character is likable and no emotion is genuine; it’s hard to get any feeling at all from most of the film.
Perhaps that’s the point? Perhaps we’re supposed to be confused, because every character seems to have good sides and bad sides. But if that were the case, one would assume genuine emotion could show through the murkiness in one direction or the other, but it never happens. The characters simply go through the “home invasion” motions, there’s a bloody fight scene mixed with an explosion, and then an ambivalent epilogue.
With all that gabbing aside, let’s focus on the main reason people will watch this movie. How thrilling is it?
I would say it’s pretty good in that regard. There were some tense, painful moments as well as some cool visuals that seem to permeate Breaking Glass Pictures’ catalog. There are a couple cranium cracks, some finger torture and a lot of chasing. Plus, the masks the “antagonists” wear are genuinely creepy. If I saw tall, lanky weirdos walking toward me wearing such masks, I’d hightail it to the nearest crowd of well-to-do bystanders.
Finally, can I recommend Feedback as an entertaining thriller? Depends on if you mind the semi one-sided political banter that never goes anywhere tangible. I feel there’s more of this story left to be told. Why the ambivalence? Why the continual black-and-white portrayal of good guys and bad guys if the tables are supposed to be turned? Are we not supposed to have sympathy for the baddies given that they’re technically right? Perhaps those are questions a sequel can answer.