Saturday, November 07, 2015

My Fondness for Certain Actors of '400 Days' Made Me Watch It

Basing on its IMDB rating, I had no intention of watching this movie at first.  Then I caught glance of some interesting names on its cast – Tom Cavanagh, Caity Lotz, Brandon Routh, and Grant Bowler.  These are actors of some my favorite TV shows!  Cavanagh is from The Flash, Routh and Lotz are from Arrow (and next year’s Legends of Tomorrow), and Bowler is from Defiance.  I like these guys, and I was hoping that even if the movie turns out to be awful, their performances – or, at least, their presence – will be able to make up for it.

400 Days tells the story of four prospective astronauts as they agreed to be locked in a bunker for 400 days in order to simulate a space mission to a distant planet.  As the days passed, the situation starts getting too realistic, and the crew members find themselves showing signs of mental deterioration and questioning if it’s still a simulation.

The movie has some intriguing elements as a sci-fi psychological thriller, but it never truly has any meat in it.  Its quality is something one would expect from a typical mediocre direct-to-video/TV movie.  But understanding what it is, I had no high expectations for this film in the first place.

I was hoping, though, that 400 Days would be moderately Twilight Zone-y in its plot.  And for some stretches, it felt that it’s going to be so.  However, in the end, all its attempts fizzle out.

I also hated the cliff-hanger ending.  It actually has this clichéd but exciting twist at the end, but instead of following up on it – to tidy its mess of a plot – it ends with a cliff-hanger.  Now, in good narratives, a cliff-hanger ending can be a strong exclamation point to the story.  But in this case, with its insubstantial script that doesn’t make sense, the cliff-hanger ending only frustrates.

The acting didn’t really blow me away, but I guess it’s still one of the solid aspects of this movie.  Dane Cook has the reputation of being an uncharismatic actor, and he plays a character in this movie that you would expect from him – an unlikable jerk; but he actually doesn’t suck – he wasn’t great, but he wasn’t garbage either.  Cavanagh and Routh were particularly making an effort in delivering great performances – too bad, its weak script doesn’t give them enough character depth to work with.

In the end, 400 Days is an objectively bad movie; its likable cast (most of them) isn’t enough to prevent it from being so.  There are some elements that indicate that this movie could have been better, but they’re not substantial enough to make this movie worth watching by itself.     

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