By: Trevor Chartrand
With a title like this, it’s too easy for reviewers like myself to open with something like, “A Perfect Plan is not a perfect movie”, so allow me to go one step further. It would be more accurate to say this film falls monstrously short of perfect. In fact, it’s about as far from perfection as you could possibly get. A mediocre thriller at best, the film is littered with problems in almost every possible critical category.
The premise for this story is a sort-of combination between the first Saw film and the 2003 Canadian heist movie, Foolproof. A group of four thieves wake up in an abandoned warehouse, having all been drugged and kidnapped. Each with their own special areas of expertise (the safe cracker, the master planner, the nimble cat burglar, and the handyman), they piece together that they are required to plan a diamond heist for their notorious captors, who are watching them on surveillance cameras. Failure to succeed will result in the detonation of a bomb, killing the kidnapped thieves.
From the start, we have four characters, experts in their field, who are in a ‘damned if we do, damned if we don’t’ situation. They are dead if they do nothing, and still kidnapped if they help their captors. It doesn’t occur to these supposedly cunning criminals to ever find an alternate way out; to use the tools at their disposal to plan an escape. The passive inaction of these characters makes it hard to believe they’re as smart as the filmmakers intended them to be. They were given all the equipment under the sun to plan a heist (including a thermic lance, for cryin’ out loud!), but it never occurs to them to just bolt? Something in that room would have ensured their escape, and the lack of forward-thinking action from the thieves is beyond believability. As a result, the film falls apart at the premise alone.
To make things worse, these same oblivious characters are also written to be oddly omnipotent – they’re wise and discerning when it’s convenient for the story. For example, when the thieves wake up in their warehouse, there’s no note to indicate why they’ve been taken there. No threatening video tape or ominous messages from their kidnappers. How then, could they possibly realize what’s expected of them? The fact that they even figure out what they are there to do is a preposterous miracle. All they have to go off of is a room littered with tools and one unmarked file folder containing some blueprints – they somehow understand ‘plan a heist before the bomb goes off’ despite not having much to go on.
As the all-knowing characters miraculously conjure up more plot details, A Perfect Plan quickly becomes bloated with heavy exposition. The characters begin to serve more as narrators than anything else. And then somehow, even with all the thick expository dialogue, the narrative still barely makes much sense.
The cast all do their best with their clunky dialogue, but none of them turn in any kind of memorable or stellar performance. They’re all a little stilted, a little forced, and certainly have a lot of room for growth in future projects. As the villain, William Forsythe (The Devil’s Rejects) is also uncharacteristically bland, but his character’s motive is as vague and ill-defined as the rest, so he doesn’t have much to build from either.
On a technical level, A Perfect Plan is competently made for the most part, despite a few sequences appearing underlit; especially scenes in the dark warehouse. There are also attempts at fight sequences and stunts in the final moments of the film, which become humorous due to poor choreography and slow-speed kicks and punches.
Overall, A Perfect Plan is a poorly constructed mess that should never have made it passed the script phase. Between its flawed narrative and unmotivated characters (who know too much AND too little), there’s a lot of room for improvement in this disappointing caper.
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Trevor Chartrand: @OhHaiTrebor