Arlington Road starts out so good, and then plummets so quickly. Somewhere in between the nausea-inducing (in a good way) camerawork of the opening scenes and the big blow-out finale, Mark Pellington's new movie loses its footing and becomes just another terrorist-next-door flick."But there's not too many of those," you say, and you know what? You're absolutely right. What a novel (high) concept! What, then, is it that makes this movie so disappointing? I would say execution, except for the fact that the film is rather competent technically. Maybe it's the mechanics of the plot - that must be it!
But the plot runs smoothly until the last fifteen minutes or so. And an hour and forty five minutes of good work certainly deserves more than two stars, especially this summer. But even the good parts aren't all that great. Underneath the shiny exterior of Arlington Road, there's a queasy layer of indecision. The film makers just can't seem to make up their minds in which direction (and how far) they want to take their movie, and that's a big problem.
In the simplest terms, Jeff Bridges plays a paranoid suburbanite who suspects his neighbor of being a terrorist. The neighbor is played by Tim Robbins, who seems to be focusing on something much more important than this movie (Robbins has been away from the screen for awhile, and it appears that he's not all back yet).
Now you must be thinking that this is an intriguing premise. How bad can it be? Pretty bad, which I realized as soon as the film started to move to the same paranoid rhythm we've seen in every conspiracy film since the beginning of time...or at least since they started making conspiracy films. The performances are good, the direction calm and collected, and the script functional. Then the movie hits the skids halfway through and proceeds to tumble through the motions of your average generic thriller.
The worst part of this movie is that even a hypercritical filmgoer such as myself can't get my Irish up enough to hate it. I can only be severely disappointed. And, believe you me, I'd much rather be enraged.Sorry for the lateness of the review. I just got around to copying it from moviething.com.