I always do try to find the best in a movie. I feel as though very recently I have been giving out a lot of low ratings, but I suppose that’s because of we are still in the early months of the movie year. I had hoped “The Loft” could change that, a good solid character driven murder mystery. The remake from a well received foreign film “The Loft” is far from solid. Although well made from a technical standpoint and there are a few decent performances from some of the main actors, the twists towards the end makes the story crumble, making the first two thirds of the movie not work from a logical standpoint (Not that you will care what happens to these despicable main characters we are forced to follow).
Five married guys secretly share a penthouse loft in, a place where they can carry out their affairs. But, it becomes a nightmare when they discover the dead body of an unknown woman in the loft. They then realize, one of the group must be involved.
This is the third version of this movie to date. Not only was there a successful Belgium film but it was also remade into a Netherlands film. In the history of film it took three different attempts to finally create the film classic “The Maltese Falcon”. The 1931 “Frankenstein” was the 3rd American version of the tale (4th if you count the 1927 Italian version). The 1939 masterpiece “Wizard of Oz” was also the second version (it’s actually the 6th version if you count the short films in 1910,1933, and the sequel in 1933, and of course the 1925 silent film). Throughout film history we’ve seen so many different remakes, and sometimes after a few tries the filmmakers seem to get it “right”.
Was “The Loft” going to join the ranks of classics like the ones I listed above? No of course not, that would be extremely unfair to expect anything close to that. Now, I haven’t seen the previous versions of this film but from my understanding they were very well received and the original director Erik Van Looy came on the helm this remake. So, I bring up these classics to show what can be done with a few different attempts at the same material. Plus bringing in the original director from the well received original you would thing Van Looy would have ironed out any of the problems that the original might have had.
The first problem you run into with this film is the cast of characters. Not once do we care about any of them. All of them are shallow and two dimensional. You’re watching a movie about five friends (whom you can’t understand how they are friends in the first place) who cheat, lie, and will do anything to betray one another and their spouses. How can we as an audience care at all what happens to them when we hate these despicable characters? The female roles are no better either. All women here are nagging, cheating and depressed characters that are married to loud mouth, horny and disgusting male one. There is an attempt to create a likeable character with James Marsden but it doesn’t exactly pan out.
Can you have a movie like this (or in general) with unlikeable characters and still care and be interested in what happens to them? Yes you absolutely can! Just look at “The Wolf of Wall Street” the main character played by Leonardo DiCaprio is a despicable human being but we’re still interested in his story. Same with “Goodfellas” or hell even a lot of the characters in “The Fighter” are unlikeable. So why do we care about those stories with unlikeable characters but here in “The Loft” we don’t? The answer to that is “The Loft” suffers from (the already mentioned) two dimensional character problem. They are shallow, and have no life to them. We don’t care about them because we don’t like them nor are we interested in their story because there is nothing there to be interested in. It’s a cold hollow shell we are peering into.
The biggest problem though for “The Loft” lies in the story twist. Part way through after all the characters bicker back and forth trying to figure who killed this women the big plot twist occurs. It’s revealed that 4 of the 5 friends actually set up the 5th one but that twist doesn’t work from a storytelling stand point. The opening scene shows one of the co-conspirators walking into the loft and acting shocked by seeing a dead women, dropping his groceries on the floor. Why would he do that if he already knew about the women dead and decided to frame it on one of his friends. Plus why would all the co-conspirators wait around and argue and bicker about who did it when they planned on setting up the friend anyways? The characters weren’t trained actors so how come they could play off acting shocked, confused and angry all at once without coming off as fake? Why did they wait for Karl Urban’s character to confess to meeting with the women before drugging him? See what happens once the plot twist occurs? Everything gets called into questioned and crumbles before us.
“The Loft’s” plot twist is a plot twist for plot twist sake. Let’s look at a movie like “Gone Girl”. The plot twist in that movie was earth shattering sending the movie into a completely different direction then where it was going. So you might be thinking why did I love that twist so much when I disliked “The Loft” so much? “Gone Girl’s” plot twist builds upon the already moving narrative that is put into motion. You can see how the twist builds into the first act of the movie and doesn’t contradict anything that has already come before it. “The Loft” contradicts the entire first two thirds of the movie that’s where the difference is.
“The Loft” for the most part is pretty well acted and does have a solid and stern direction from director Erik Van Looey. This isn’t an unbearable film to watch and isn’t as painful as some other recent releases but a mystery movie needs a good narrative to succeed and “The Loft” manages to step on its own toes.