Seriously, why do white people enjoy stupidly dangerous situations?
Hot off the heels of the great 10 Cloverfield Lane, we’ve got another bottle film on our hands, this time involving punk rockers being tormented by a Neo-Nazi…Patrick Stewart? The nicest fucking guy in existence? How could that work? The answer is quite surprising…
So we primarily follow Anton Yelchin (Chekov from the new Star Trek) and his punk rock band mates on the tail end of their tour across America. This band is pretty much done professionally while in Washington State, but they live in Virginia and need gas money. So they take the brilliant idea to accept a gig at a Neo-Nazi bar to cover their return expenses. While they do have the brilliant idea to piss the patrons off with their cover of “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” (as to the reason why they did this, see white people), they still manage to have a successful show. And just as they’re about to leave, they just so happen to find the aftermath of a grizzly murder of a girl in their green room. As the bar is managed by an organized Nazi gang, the band mates aren’t going to be allowed to leave…
So you’ve got the set up for a unique siege film, where the protagonists have to fend off bad people trying to kill them. While this film is a bit more subdued than similar flicks like Assault on Precinct 13, Green Room has the important ingredient that makes movies like these work: tension. You’re pretty much wound up from the moment the band mates find themselves in danger, and the muscles keep tightening as the threat escalates. Said escalation is mostly thanks to one Sir Patrick Stewart.
It’s always nice to see an actor flex his abilities in roles that normally would not go to him, and it’s doubly so when you have the former Captain Picard coordinating an attack on this punk band as the leader of these Neo-Nazis. What’s interesting is that he’s not a brash, loud leader constantly emasculating his subordinates to assert his “alpha status.” Rather, he’s a cold, calculating mastermind who berates his followers for not using their brains and offers praise and appreciation to the followers who comply with his demands. This becomes even more relevant in a few scenes where he speaks to the band mates through a door, and speaks to them with calming, fatherly authority…since he’s trying to deceive them.
Stewart’s character doesn’t need to threaten anyone. He quickly executes a plan to cover up the murder in his bar and eliminating all witnesses by thoughtfully taking stock of his situation and rounding up gang members he knows he can rely on. Which is all the more threatening than some egomaniacal jackass trying to show off how big his dick is. The maniac can be duped and out witted, but the sociopathic mastermind is the one where you quickly have to deduce the best strategy because he’s already thinking ten steps ahead of you. It’s unnerving and considerably intimidating, and it raises the esteem of a film that would have otherwise been forgotten in the middle of the summer rush.
I wouldn’t call Stewart’s performance “one of the best of the year” but he makes the price of admission to Green Room worthwhile. And I can tell you that you’ll likely leave satisfied that you got a great movie, but at the same time it doesn’t leave an impact on you. I remember Stewart’s performance a month after I saw this, but the rest of the film is hazy.
That may be because we hung around dipshits for a good portion of the 90 minute run time. While Yelchin and Imogen Poots were the standouts in the roster kept prisoner in the green room, the other three band mates hardly left an impression since they all have pretty interchangeable personalities. None of them, save for Yelchin and Poots, get any significant character development; so you don’t really care as much when some of them get bumped off as the Neo-Nazis breach the area and try to take them out. And it’s not because any of them did a terrible job acting; far from it, I think they did great with what they had. But the script does let the rest of the cast down if your name wasn’t on the poster.
Granted, at least the deaths are pretty brutal and vicious, hardly ever romantic or melodramatic. All the fighting involves taking on whatever is handy, and trying to take on whatever thug or attack dog comes your way. The close quarters combat is frantic and messy, just how it should because nobody is a badass here. The band mates aren’t skillfully trained in the slightest; and the Neo-Nazis may act all tough, but it’s clear that the situation is way over the heads for some of them. The way some characters die can downright make you squirm a bit, and you feel bad they got taken out in such an awful way…but you really don’t feel their loss.
Speaking of feeling, the ending felt a little anti-climactic. It’s like we had built up all this tension inside a balloon, and the air quickly escaped the moment you let go. Which leaves the last 7 minutes to feel like the balloon puffing out the last gasps of air weakly. A bit disappointing for such a solid core, and it made me think about wanting the balls-to-the-wall climax of 10 Cloverfield Lane. While I get why some people loathed that ending to such a strong character study, it allowed the filmmakers to capitalize on all the tension they had spent all film building. Green Room offers a more subdued resolution, but I felt a bit deflated leaving the theater.
Keep in mind, this is hardly a deal breaker, as the solid core of fine actors in the middle of a siege still exists alongside the damn great performance by Patrick Stewart. Wished I loved it a bit more, but this is still a very strong and very high…