The Misfits Review: Renny Harlin’s retrograde and racist film barely qualifies as a movie
In the years since the critical and box office failure of the pirate adventure film Cut-throat Island In 1995, resulting in a steady decline for years in the United States, director Renny Harlin finally made it to China in the mid-2010s. It was there that Harlin found himself much more adopted than in the States. United, where yields had dropped dramatically and Golden Raspberry Award nominations piled up (and that didn’t help Cut-throat Island essentially had bankrupted an entire studio). Thus, following his staging of the film Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville Skip the trail in 2016 – a Chinese co-production – the Finnish filmmaker of hit action films like Die hard 2 and The deep blue sea made the eastward shift permanent, even start your own business in China. His second film after moving, video game adaptation Legend of the ancient sword, was not so hot; the movie after that, Body at rest, however, holds a 80% on rotten tomatoes. But his last film, The marginalizedâIts first American production since 2014 the legend of hercules– is not 80 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Quite the contrary: it looks like a film adaptation of an archive photo.
The marginalized, with Pierce Brosnan and Nick Cannon, is airless, useless and only passable; an amalgamation of the most tired clichÃ©s of the heist films, executed in the most empty way possible. Coming from a competent director, it feels like there was another reason for making this film. As if it was a front for something – a money laundering scheme. It hurts me to be so cruel to a movie, but it would be a lot less easy if it weren’t so wildly race-insensitive. The film operates from a screenplay by co-writers Robert Henny and Kurt Wimmer, who seem to write like we’re in a whole different time, when the over-the-top Middle Eastern accents and jokes all over the place. Muslims called themselves “Mohammed” was still considered kosher.
The plot of the film follows a gang of unorthodox criminals known as the Misfits … but that name only rings true for the group’s leader, Ringo (Cannon) who, during the seven-minute introductory narrative, goes to great lengths to explain that other team members don’t necessarily agree with this name. The Misfits – who, alongside Ringo, include Violet (Jamie Chung) and pyrotechnic Wick (Mike Angelo) – line up with a master thief known as Richard Pace (Brosnan, looking sexy). Pace recently escaped from a prison, one of many run by a man named Schultz (Tim Roth, who also looks sexy), who does business with an extremist group called the Muslim Brotherhood. The Misfits want to partner with Pace to steal the gold currently accumulated by Schultz and the Muslim Brotherhood in one of Schultz’s prisons in the Middle East. Not so that they can necessarily keep the gold for themselves, but so that they can get it out of the hands of terrorists. It was as if we had left this kind of âRighteous Westerners vs. Evil Muslim Terroristsâ scenario in the annals of the past where it belongs, but The marginalized either wants to bring the good old days back to life or doesn’t really care what he does or what message he sends one way or the other.
Eventually, Pace reluctantly agrees to “do the right thing” and steal the gold with the Misfits. This despite the fact that none of the riches are guaranteed, in order to impress Hope (Hermione Corfield), his distant humanitarian daughter, because of course he has a distant daughter. Hope literally said out loud, âI find it hard to trust men. Problems with Dad â, during a conversation between the two of them. When she said that, I burst out laughing. Not just because it was funny (it was) or because it was so expected (again, it was), but out of perverse acceptance of the pain I was in.
The marginalized‘is 90% narration, to the point that it becomes difficult to follow the images on the screen while Cannon is whispering to you. The emphasis on storytelling seems to have less to do with not trusting the audience to understand the story (I can’t stress enough that it’s incredibly simple), but as an attempt to add flavor to the movie without doing anything with the shoot. That’s what a lot of the film’s stylistic flourishes come down to: garnishing a dish instead of seasoning it. An old black and white sequence opens the film as Cannon energetically explains how to properly rob banks; comedic cutaways and flashback footage punctuate the otherwise sloppy narrative; the sometimes zippy edition deigns to make you feel like you’re watching something with personality in the same league as the Oceans franchise, which could be attributed to editor Colleen Rafferty (The man of the high castle, Burn notice).
Most acting roles are entirely fine, performances evocative of “I was there, I introduced myself, I was paid” (which almost recalls the lucrative “Geezer teaser” Empire). No one other than Cannon is particularly bad, but he’s a positively unbearable presence. Not funny, not charismatic and given permission to make a caricature of a Middle Eastern accent (which he later tries to say is European), dress in traditional costume and pretend to be a man from the Middle East – particularly interesting given the recent flirting with anti-Semitism. The scenes are devoid of substance or style – the characters, objects, and locations fill a shot without there being anything in it. The first 40 needle drops that sound indistinguishable from the last are as hollow as they are distracting.
These touches only add to the feeling that The marginalized was produced in a Getty Images laboratory; a series of drab but elegantly produced visuals that convey only the most standard level of storytelling, working more closely to a heist-themed photoshoot. His minimal attempts at panache are rendered void of any touch of true flair or artistic singularity. The film itself becomes a black void, a rudderless vision anchored only by the desire to see it end.
Director: Renny harlin
Writers: Robert Henny, Kurt Wimmer
Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Nick Cannon, Tim Roth, Mike Angelo, Jamie Chung, Hermione Corfield
Release date: June 11, 2021
Brianna Zigler is an entertainment writer based in the middle of nowhere in Massachusetts. Her work has been featured in Little White Lies, Film School Rejects, Thrillist, Bright Wall / Dark Room and more, and she writes a bimonthly newsletter called This is weird. You can follow her on Twitter, where she enjoys engaging in thought-provoking discussions about films like Movie 43, Clifford and Watchmen.