Brake is, essentially, Buried set in a moving vehicle. Viewers get to spend a lot of time stuck in a small space with star Stephen Dorff and while this isn’t necessarily the worst fate that can befall anyone (especially if the reaction of my wife is anything to go by) it just doesn’t make up for a rather weak storyline as predictable as it is unexciting and, frankly, more than a little bit laughable.
Dorff plays a secret agent who wakes up to find himself in some kind of plexiglass coffin type of container with a timer counting down. This is the first mistake of the movie. That timer has only a few minutes on the clock and when it reaches zero . . . . . . . . . . dun dun dunnnnnnnn . . . . . . it, ummmm, adds on some more time and starts counting down again. Of course, time will be a factor at some point in the movie but only when it is spelled out to the audience. Why has Dorff been put in this situation? Well, some nasty terrorist types want to terrorise America and to be most effective they need to know the designated hiding place of the President for that particular day. Yes, it’s like a cross between Buried and In The Line Of Fire, though lacking the tension of either.
I’m sure that everyone involved (and, particularly, Stephen Dorff) believed in the material and thought that they were going to give audiences something enjoyable and thrilling but I suspect that everyone involved was just too close to the material to see the many, massive flaws. Switch your brain completely off and it IS enjoyable enough but with the implausibilities in Timothy Mannion’s script stacking up from the very beginning the final tower of playing cards can only go two ways by the time things reach a conclusion – either standing tall as an amazing feat of skill that you never expected or collapsing to the ground. It’s the latter, I’m afraid.
The script may be the biggest flaw, in terms of actual story construction, but director Gabe Torres can shoulder a lot of the blame for not doing anything to hide the sheer stupidity of the thing. Even the title, Brake, doesn’t actually have any relevance – another example of the laziness woven into the whole movie.
Stephen Dorff does well with what he’s given. There are minor roles for Chyler Leigh, JR Bourne and Tom Berenger but this is really a movie that gets right up close to Dorff and doesn’t let him hide for most of the runtime. In fact, it’s his performance alone that allows me to rate the movie as high as I have. Anyone less effective in the central role would have left the film as a completely unwatchable and unsatisfying mess.
DIRECTOR: GABE TORRES
WRITER: TIMOTHY MANNION
STARS: STEPHEN DORFF, CHYLER LEIGH, JR BOURNE, TOM BERENGER
RUNTIME: 91 MINS APPROX