Review by Sean Boelman
A thriller seemingly made for the modern world but also devoid of any true purpose, Mike Testin’s thriller Browse has some interesting ideas but never makes anything of them. Instead, the film is an hour and a half of story with no real momentum and a character arc with no resolution.
The movie follows a man who begins to suspect that his devices have been hacked, leading to his life being ruined. It’s an interesting idea that likely would have made for a phenomenal short, but writer Mario Carvalhal drags it out to nearly ninety minutes. Yet somehow, despite feeling too long, it also feels hopelessly incomplete.
One of the film’s biggest issues is that it effectively heads nowhere. The script constantly builds tension up to a climax that also serves as the end of the movie. And since Carvalhal refuses to offer an answer to the questions he poses, none of the ideas that he sets up over the course of the script are able to be explored.
This isn’t the first time that there has been a cautionary tale about overreliance on technology, and it certainly won’t be the last as our lives are becoming increasingly reliant on the devices that make daily activities more convenient. Still, these ideas have been handled with much more depth and subtlety in other movies before.
Also problematic is the film’s character development. There are a few likable characteristics about the protagonist, but they have very little impact on the way we see the situation as a whole. One of the subplots, involving the character showing integrity in his job, is compelling, but only gets a short amount of run time.
Character actor Lukas Haas gets to take the lead here, and while his performance does show that he has the potential to turn in a strong bout should he get better material, he doesn’t quite feel right for the role. Haas typically plays characters who aren’t particularly approachable, and this role needed more of a human element to work.
And unfortunately, despite an unmistakably modern story, the movie fails to show any relevance stylistically. Testin doesn’t do enough to make the film stand out. The visuals are unnecessarily drab and grey, and there doesn’t seem to be much creativity on display. Had the movie been more artistically inspired, perhaps it could have made up for a lackluster script.
Browse will hook viewers with some of its interesting ideas, but once it becomes clear that the film is mostly stagnant, it will lose that sense of intrigue really quickly. This is yet another thriller built around an idea that is more compelling on paper than in execution.
Browse hits VOD on July 7.
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