Intersections (2013) / Thriller
MPAA Rated: R for violence, language and brief sensuality
Running Time: 101 min.
Cast: Frank Grillo, Jaimie Alexander, Roschdy Zem, Marie-Josee Croze, Moussa Maaskri, Charlie Bewley, Affif Ben Badra, Carlos Leal, Gabriela Wright
Director: David Marconi
Screenplay: David Marconi
Review published January 14, 2014
Writer-director David Marconi (screenwriter for Live Free or Die Hard and Enemy of the State) crafts this intricate thriller, produced by Luc Besson (The Family, Taken 2), which usually means a French film with Hollywood sensibilities. A bit reminiscent in structure to The Flight of the Phoenix, this flick pits several people, mostly lowlifes, into a remote Moroccan desert location in which they must rely on one another for survival, while none of them particularly can trust any of the others to assure their safety. Each character has his/her own agenda and secrets, which come out through the film, and each revelations brings forth another nuance that maintains interest in seeing where the story ultimately goes.
For some European audiences, the top-billed star will be Roschdy Zem (Point Blank), while in the U.S. the billing goes to Frank Grillo (Homefront, Disconnect), which is more appropriate based on screen time. Grillo plays Scott Dolan, a super-successful hedge fund manager who is on a honeymoon desert getaway with his lovely but unfaithful wife Taylor (Alexander, Thor 2), who ends up having a midnight rendezvous with another man named Travis (Bewley, Like Crazy).
Taylor convinces Travis that it's in their best interest for Scott to meet his demise, contriving of a meeting place for it all to go down. But things don't go according to plan and they end up in a race across the desert in which the two vehicles run into a few other vehicles that happen to be in the area. In the confusion, a notorious diamond smuggler named Omar (Maaskri, Vidocq) escapes his cuffs and he'll gladly kill anyone who gets in his way. There's also a French woman (Croze, Munich) and her infant baby to contend with. Meanwhile, a new man arrives on the scene in the form of Saleh (Zem), whose motorcycle has broken down en route.
Intersections makes good use of its locales, with most of the action taking place in a very small section of a vast desert. It has impressive stunt work, with an exciting, high-speed desert chase scene culminating in a fantastic multi-car crash scenario that eschews CGI. As the film is set mostly in the desert, the budget is relatively low, but as the story invests in its characters, it's not something that is noticeable. The film is being marketed as an action movie, and despite the lengthy chase and collisions, I'd call this more of a thriller than anything else, so temper expectations for a white-knuckle shoot-em-up.
All of this would seem like standard fare, and it is, but it's the nuance provided by a decent cast that kicks it just a step above mediocrity. In particular, the interplay between Grillo and Alexander feels like a couple who are indeed sick of one another. If I could have changed anything in the plot, it is in the making them a 'newlywed' couple, as this angle is not only not needed for the film to work, it makes little sense that the marriage would even exist if things had already gotten to the, "I want to kill my partner to be rich and free" stage.
While the title is generic, and some of the plot is as well, there are enough nifty twists and subtle turns by a decent ensemble of actors to make it a worthwhile thriller for those who enjoy the genre. For those who aren't thriller junkies, it may seem like an empty exercise, full of unlikeable characters that aren't worth rooting for. As for me, it's a bit of a toss-up, but I'm giving it a recommendation for keeping me intrigued throughout.
As it is a multinational movie with multilingual actors (English, French and Arabic), lengthy segments of the film will be subtitled. Stick around a bit through the credits for a thought-provoking extra.
©2014 Vince Leo