Friday, April 22, 2011

Legacy and Drowning in Madness: A Movie Review

Director/writer: Thomas Ikimi.

Legacy or Legacy: Black Ops is a psychological thriller released in North America in theatres October 15th and on DVD December 28th, 2010. The film stars Idris Elba (28 Weeks Later), Julian Wadham (Outpost) and Mem Ferda (The Devil's Double), in director Thomas Ikimi's debut film. Legacy begins in the action thriller genre, but quickly switches to psychological thriller, as Malcolm Gray (Elba) cannot leave one special mission behind. The result is a slow burn, with some intriguing yet convoluted messages.

Gray is sent on an espionage mission to prevent a sarin gas attack on the eastcoast of the United States. He is caught tortured and returned home a former shell of himself. Here, the remainder of the film is shot within one dingy room, while Gray moans of operation "Dark Hammer." The cramped confines of the set are reduced due to a limited budget and the focus from here on in is on this mental breakdown of one disturbed special forces soldier.

The film is reminiscent of Martin Sheen's performance in Apocalypse Now, as Captain Willard. Gray imagines his unit drinking with him, in the apartment. Later, his ex-girlfriend (Monique Gabriela Curnen) appears and viewers might begin to wonder what is real and what is not. In Gray's mind, few perceptions are stable and Legacy begins to feel like an extended scene from the aforementioned film, where ceiling fans swing and Willard drinks himself into oblivion. Feelings aroused are depression and possibly confusion.

The final scenes minimally take the film out of the apartment, as Gray confronts his brother over operation "Dark Hammer." While the Sarin gas attack is thwarted through intervention, part of Gray's mind is left on the battlefield. Thomas Ikiri's message on government cover-ups and political ambition are a little tough to decipher, as noticed by Dennis Harvey of "Ikimi's murky political message seems secondary in importance to his focus on letting this...self-conscious star [Elba] leave no scenery unchewed." The final scene, while violent, does not draw the watcher out of the numbness of eighty minutes set in a single, tired flat.

Legacy could really have used more action scenes interspersed with the character Gray's meltdown. This would have helped the film's pacing. Instead, Legacy is important for showing the horrors of war and for showing the importance of taking the camera outside, for exterior shots. The final effect is one of dreariness, with Elba's performance on par to Sheen's breakdown in the above mentioned Apocalypse Now. Further efforts from Ikimi are sure to bring a stronger performance and hopefully a larger budget.

Overall: 6.5 out of 10 (good writing, strong acting, depressing, not very entertaining and the finale is a little anti-climactic).

A second review of the film at Variety, from Dennis Harvey:

Legacy Reviewed at Variety

More on the film can be found here:

Legacy Homepage

The film is available here, but Legacy requires a certain mindset to view:

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