By: Addison Wylie
88 is proof a film can go feral. It’s a version of Memento that’s been influenced by exploitation schlock and left out in the sun for too long. It’s fun for a bit, but the film runs out of steam. The rowdy trashy energy sends the film to a place of no return – fandom purgatory.
April Mullen has appeared in front of the camera in various supporting roles, and has now decided to further her filmmaking career with 88. I don’t really know why. I’m guessing she’s a fan of films like Domino and was itching to see another off-the-wall action movie like it. Mullen has made a revenge yarn that’s heavy on senseless violence and Tony Scott flare. It’s been conceived by someone who wants to push the limits in their desired genre in order to bring a bad ass to the big screen.
Mullen, however, missteps and enables her enthusiasm to deter Tim Doiron’s screenplay. She falls in a category of filmmakers that love to show off homages and mirror cinematic favourites, yet fail to do anything original with their kinetic energy. 88 keeps the story moving, but there’s no substance. Like its representation of gory violence, the film is senseless.
Mullen shouldn’t take all the blame though. Doiron’s script not only borrows from Christopher Nolan’s Memento, he straight-up lifts from Nolan’s mind-bender.
88’s lead character Gwen (played by Katharine Isabelle) slips in and out of a fugue state, which has her memory temporarily blinded as an alternative personality takes over. Isabelle (who excelled in American Mary and made audiences quiver in Ginger Snaps) continues to show audiences she’s unable to give a bad performance. She miraculously alternates personas without breaking a sweat; it’s always amusing and alluring. No matter how many hoops Doiron and Mullen ask their actress to jump through, Katharine Isabelle is superb.
Since 88 strictly consists of flashy visual styles and wild action, an audience that matches 88’s crazy mood may make the difference regarding whether you have a good time watching it. Whenever 88 loses track of its story, it hopes to win the crowd over with a bouncy attitude, nasty distractions and a crabby Christopher Lloyd. It lives in the moment, and undemanding movie goers may dig that. But, because 88 is absent of all depth, Mullen’s debut is going to have trouble standing the test of time – I guarantee that.