Similar to 127 Hours and Castaway, Wrecked examines a man alone in the elements, relying solely on his wits and will to survive. Given the story's added twist of amnesia, says Kimberly Gadette, how about the film itself? What are its chances of survival?
Prior to helming this first-time feature, Michael Greenspan directed three short films (two of them with his long-time collaborator and Wrecked writer Christopher Dodd). Given the narrow scope of this project, perhaps the filmmakers might have been better off if they'd tailored Wrecked to the same short format.
A man (Adrien Brody), bloodied and injured, slowly wakes up to find himself stuck in the passenger seat of a mangled car. He's obviously been in crash; the auto is beyond repair, stuck in a ravine at the bottom of some unfamiliar forest. Once he gets his bearings, he realizes that there's a dead man in the back seat. Looking in the rearview mirror, he sees that while the cuts and gashes on his face are ugly, and that one of his eyes is swollen, he on the other hand is very much alive. If only he could free his broken right leg from under the car's glove box, he might have a chance to escape from the hovering mountain lion who's looking mighty hungry. Making matters more complicated, he's suffering from amnesia. The simplest questions of who he is and how he got there are impossible to answer.
And so Adrien Brody once again plays a solo ... but rather than on a piano (2002's The Pianist), he plays against time and nature. (Note: his Oscar award for The Pianist also made him the youngest male actor to ever win in the category of Best Actor.)
A single-character film is, by default, a character study (defined in the dictionary as "a work of fiction in which the delineation of the central character's personality is more important than the plot"). But in this scenario, since the man can't call on any history that would have shaped such personality, all we have is the here and now. And a few random clues, such as a card that the man finds in the car, imprinted with a name that may or may not be his. He also finds a gun. Could it be his? He hasn't – say it with me – a clue. There's some news broadcasting from the scratchy car radio about an occurrence that he can barely hear, that may or may not involve him. And hey, who dropped the lozenge on the car's filthy floor? Maybe the mountain lion knows but even if he does, he's not telling. He's fixating on dinner.
Without a back story, without giving us any substantive interior monologue that might have also led to revealing personality, what man is ... is what man does. Oh dear. How he comports himself in the woods leads us to conclude that if he ever was a Boy Scout, he was a wash-out. He doesn't try to fish, relying instead on snatching a worm or two. He pays no attention to the sun's position in the sky, so he can't figure out his bearings. Instead, he crawls and limps, his bum leg reliant on a rude splint, as he unfortunately wanders around in circles.
Which is sadly similar to this deathly long non-plot, the man intermittently flashing on images that might be real (a girl, a dog). Or maybe not.
But screenwriter Dodd brings up a fascinating concept, that of assumptions based on minutiae. When we see a stranger, we take what small bits of information we can readily discern and hastily sketch a stereotype. An unkempt man who sits in the playground looks like a pedophile; the woman in a burka moving swiftly toward a crowd could be a terrorist; the young man with the spiked hair and the nose ring is probably a junkie.
Here, the man is forced to make the same blind assumptions about another stranger: himself. And his judgment could be just as accurate, or just as faulty, as anyone else's. After all, he doesn't know the man one bit.
More than the mystery of the man, is the mystery of the Brody, and what drew him to this faulty little film. The role allows him little variation ... he yells, he cries, he floats downstream. Offering an explanation, Brody mentioned in a recent interview that his father said he was overwhelmed after reading the script.
Overwhelmed ... with boredom?
[Reviewer's final cautionary note: if anyone is planning to see Wrecked, do not, in any event, view the trailers. They are the true definition of "spoilers."]
Rating on a scale of 5 Oedipus Wreckeds: 2
Release date: US: 1 April 2011 (ltd); UK: TBD
Directed by: Michael Greenspan
Screenplay by: Christopher Dodd
Cast: Adrien Brody, Caroline Dhavernas, Ryan Robbins
Rating: US = R; UK = TBC
Running time: 91 minutes