If Coin Heist teaches us anything (other than committing fraud is, you know, bad), it’s that filmmakers still can’t fully invest in social media stars and vice versa.
No matter how many vlogs or vines they record, online personalities (including the ones starring in Coin Heist) are still having a hard time transitioning to meatier mediums or creating different characters. Then again, social media stars need diligent directors, and we currently live in a time when filmmakers assume a widely publicized user name is enough to warrant a success.
This means much of Coin Heist comes to a standstill; the film often feels like it isn’t going anywhere because no one is doing any heavy lifting. It’s been written and directed by Emily Hagins, a young filmmaker who earned notoriety after making a zombie indie called Pathogen at age 12. She’s made movies since then, but Coin Heist marks her first proper mainstream release. I understand Hagins is still learning the ropes, so I’ll try to go easy. It’s hard to be mad at a movie where students are bummed that their extra-cirricular chinese checkers club is in jeopardy.
Coin Heist deals with a diverse group of Philadelphia students who are trying to save their school after an act of fraud depletes funding and compromises the prep school’s future. Unfortunately, the teens are on their last resort after being inspired by a field trip to the U.S. Mint; they plan to print currency – lots of it.
The film’s naïveté is the reason why many could simply shrug off Coin Heist’s high concept, but I had a hard time suspending my disbelief. No matter how disguised they are, the teenagers look young enough to bring some sort of attention to them while they’re sneaking around the Mint. During the climactic heist, they’re touching everything and exposing their fingerprints; not to mention there are numerous cameras monitoring them. The guards are intimidating, but ultimately – and unrealistically – clueless. There are too many illogical holes in Hagins’ script (which was adapted from a book by Elisa Ludwig, which was adapted from an unproduced screenplay written by William Osborn bought by Adaptive Books – phew!).
Coin Heist also has a monotone presentation. The actors mumble, the cinematography drags with slow pans and zooms, and not much work has been applied in post-production to make the film visually or audibly appealing. It’s all very dull; so dull, that major discussions about the main con job blend in with extra disposable socializing.
Emily Hagins comprehends the idea of teamwork during urgencies as well as the concept of a teen’s maturing integrity, but she doesn’t illustrate that well in her shortchanged pre-teen fodder.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie