P2 & r & & r & by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & D & lt;/span & espite how easily we mock films we hate and how we struggle to explain our love for films we think are great, it's usually easier to write a review of a really good film than a really bad one. At the end of a good film there are all these things -- standout performances, beautiful shots, fascinating image patterns -- to sort through and work into a cohesive review of the film.
The only thing in my head at the end of a really bad film is generally: "Sweet hell, that was terrible." Try stretching that into 500 words. For example, I could sum up P2 -- a film about a workaholic lawyer (maybe) who works late on Christmas Eve (when she should be visiting her loving family) and subsequently falls victim to a murderous stalker -- in one word: "irredeemable." And though a one-word review that simply said "Irredeemable" would rank among the simplest, truest things I've ever written, it'd cause trouble with the boss men.
So here I go, writing way more words than this film deserves.
It opens with a perfunctory, boring office scene, meant to demonstrate the dedication of Angela Bridges (Guess model and Alias alum Rachel Nichols) to her job and how that dedication has strained her relationship with her family. The unintended effect is to let the audience in on two facts: a) neither screenwriter -- Alexandre Aja nor Franck Khalfoun -- is a native English speaker, and b) Khalfoun, who directs, ain't no kind of director at all.
The dialogue is all, like, "Angela, will you make sure the [something legal sounding] is done before you leave for the evening?" To which she replies, "Yes, that course of events is satisfactory," or some similarly wooden nonsense while static, stationary camerawork straight out of Everybody Loves Raymond frames the various speakers right in the middle of the screen.
After several phone calls to her parents in Jersey (successful professionals live in Manhattan, you see, while their clingy dotard parents
live across the Hudson) explaining her tardiness, Angela finally heads for her car, parked on level P2 (get it?). That's when all hell -- or a wack European approximation of all hell anyway -- breaks loose. Security guard Thomas (Wes Bentley, who was good in American Beauty but hasn't really had the opportunity to be good since) is quite a fan of fair Angela, and has rigged up a little Yuletide trap, locking her in the garage, cutting the lights, then chloroforming her. As far as ensnarement devices go, it's about as schlocky as the Rube Goldberg machine the kids in Goonies use to let Chunk in Mikey's house.
By and by, Angela awakens in the security office, chained to the desk, lipstick on, wearing a white dress that came from God knows where. Thomas is there, with his rabid Rottweiler and a half-dozen Tupperware tubs filled with Christmas dinner. He ensnared her, drugged her and dressed her up, it seems, because he was lonely, she was his dream girl, and homey couldn't think of any other way to talk to her.
The idea is that Thomas is a product of our disconnected age, an Everyman so dissociated from his fellows that social interaction becomes a conflict of individual wills. When he starts killing people who have wronged Angela as a way of wooing her, it's meant as a statement of how our attempts to humanize certain people ultimately lead us to objectify others. When Thomas then begins killing indiscriminately, that crassly made point flies out the window completely and P2 becomes a dumb-as-hell splat-fest.
And I'm out of words. (Rated R)