Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Badger Game - Review

The Badger Game (2014) **
D: Joshua Wagner, Thomas Zambeck
C: Augie Duke, Patrick Cronen, Jillian Leigh, Sam Boxleitner, Sasha Higgins, Marc Siciliani, Aria London 

Plot Synopsis: A chronic philanderer falls victim to an extortion scheme when he is abducted by four masked strangers demanding retribution for his sins.

Review: Within the first few minutes of The Badger Game, we're introduced to a group of women who are going to partake in the kidnapping & extortion of a marketing executive. The players, involved in this scheme, include (A.) Alex, the ex-girlfriend of this marketing executive (B.) Kip, Alex's brother & the muscle needed to pull off this scheme (C.) Shelly, Alex's former best friend, who's in need of cash -and- (D.) Jane, a stripper that the marketing guy was seeing on the side in addition to Alex. As for the marketing executive, he's a guy by the name of Ian. Ian's a husband, a father, but he also happens to have several million in the bank.

From the get go, this entire production was doomed to fail, because not only do they ask us to watch as this group kidnaps Ian, but to sympathize with them as well. For Shelly, she's doing it for her daughter. I guess she figures it's OK to kidnap & torture someone as long as you're doing it for your family. For Jane, it's retribution for the perverse sexual behavior that Ian subjected her to. And for Alex, it's to even the score. She wants Ian to feel the same pain that she does.

However, I pose this to you. When it comes to sex, it takes two to tango. In one scene, we see Jane fetishizing over various ways to torture Ian. It's not hard to put two and two together and say that Jane gets off on extreme sexual behavior. Or with Alex, she considered herself Ian's girlfriend, but she had never set foot in his house or even knew of a medical condition that Ian suffered from. Again, putting two and two together, it's fair to say that Alex projected onto Ian.

This is a group of despicable characters doing despicable things to one another. Maybe that was the point?!? Even when it comes to Ian, he didn't deserve to be kidnapped & tortured, but the guy is a liar, a cheat and has stepped all over people to do so. When it comes to watching a movie, you don't necessarily need a character to sympathize with, just someone who's emotional arc you can watch over the course of a film. At the beginning, these characters are presented as scum and in the end, they're still scum. So what exactly was the point?!?

This is a competently made & acted production. Sam Boxleitner, as Ian, stands out. His character has to be a lot of different things, to a lot of different people. He pulls it off while also avoiding the pitfall of becoming a prop. After all, his character is bound & gagged, to a chair, for a big chunk of the running time. This Sam guy has genuine camera presence. It's a shame that the acting & production values aren't in service of a better film.  

The blame for this falls squarely on the shoulders of writers Joshua Wagner & Thomas Zambeck. A more considered film would have started from the beginning and showed us Alex & Ian's relationship, whatever that may be. It would eventually build up to how Alex felt betrayed and how this kidnapping plot came to be. Instead of injecting substance into the proceedings, Wagner & Zambeck give us one liners, plot twists, gratuitous nudity & masks reminiscent of the ones seen in You're Next. Wagner & Zambeck probably thought this would be crowd pleasing, but in all actuality, these are superficial elements. It goes to show that these guys didn't even trust in their own material and have dumb it down, presenting it in the most shallow way possible. [Not Rated] 99 minutes.

-- Agree / Disagree with this review?!? Voice your opinion! Feel free to comment down below -- 

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