Edison Force

Reviewed By Jason Whyte
Posted 11/18/05 12:56:38

"So this is what $37 million flushed down the toilet looks like…"
1 stars (Sucks)

Movies like “Edison” have to be seen to be believed. Here is one of those disasters that is so unintentionally funny that it would have a great life at cheap midnight screenings, especially if director David Burke was in attendance and we were permitted to throw things at him. And anything would do….cans, popcorn, ushers, seats….

For those of you who don’t live in Vancouver, BC and have no idea what the city looks or feels like, you may accept the fictional town of Edison which is a town overrun by crime. For those of who do, however, wow. You are in for a treat, as “Edison” doesn’t even try to hide the fact they are filming in Hollywood North and gives us the city in an alternate universe.

The plot involves the city of Vancouv—whoops, I meant Edison (phew, almost got me there!) which has been hit with nasty crime for over a decade. The organization known as the FRAT – which sounds like a party but is actually more of a tactical response unit – has all of the power and wants to keep it that way. That is until Nancy Drew himself, a reporter named Joshua (Justin Timberlake) stumbles across evidence that a recent gang bust may have resulted in some bad cop business.

I find it kind of amusing that Joshua, who writes for a small publication, has an editor (Morgan Freeman; yes, Morgan Freeman) who doesn’t really do much but either sit in his office and grumble to Joshua on how lazy he is, or spends most of his time dancing like a chicken in his apartment on Granville Island. (Crap, I did it again!) I may not know much about dance and it’s hilarious to imagine Mr. Burke giving directions such as “Okay, Mr. Freeman…hold up your hands like that and move left and right! Yeah, that’s it…great stuff…you’ll be so ready for that Clint Eastwood movie!”

So yeah, let’s say that the metropolis of Edison is overrun by crime and filth…how about showing some of it to us? The entire district seems so squeaky clean, very Vancouver West End lookin’ that it’s up to hammy supporting performances to distract us, including John Heard, who runs up the FRAT, Dylan McDermott as a bad cop, Piper Perabo who plays a very dull girlfriend, and the always reliable Cary Elwes doing what he does best…overblown, spasmodic reading of dialogue.

In fact, everyone is that bad. The film features performances from Kevin Spacey (who plays another detective muckity-muck in FRAT with a very bad haircut; I almost forgot to mention him) and Morgan Freeman that begs the question of what the hell they are doing in a movie like this. Any time they are on screen, especially together, they camera looks positioned just enough for them to read their lines off of cue cards, and neither of these heavyweights appear to even believe what they are saying. And as much as LL Cool J can be more than “Just the black guy” in American cinema these days, he plays a character that would never be a scaredy-cat like he is here, and the dialogue that he recites is completely unbelievable to us, and even more so to himself.

I know so little about N’Sync where Justin Timberlake was attached; all I know is that he’s from a boy band and wants to pull an acting debut. I have seen worse performances, but at the same time he’s unbelievable as an ambitious reporter who also appears to have a case of the potty mouth whenever the situation calls for it. Not only does he appear to lack skill or timing, but hardly do you ever see him, you know, TAPING testimony or properly contacting people for interviews. There’s a hilarious climatic chase where either Burke had written piss-poor writing for Timberlake to shout (mostly, again, using profanity) or Timberlake came up with it himself. Either way…neither knows what they’re doing.

I have to get back to the Vancouver location shooting: at the very least, the filmmakers have a slight mastering of editing in the city despite the fact that no one who knows this city will remotely buy the fictional setting. There’s an overlong sequence where LL Cool J and Justin Timberlake are featured outside the Plaza nightclub in Vancouver and at least it doesn’t cut to another shot five blocks away like “Are We There Yet?” did earlier this year, where the city of Portland, Seattle and Vancouver were all rolled into one. At the very least it’s a fictional setting; “A Guy Thing” (2003) filmed here yet pretended to be Seattle for the whole running time, which was an insult to both rainy cities.

Something, somewhere, went wrong. David Burke is a television writer (probably better known for his work on “Wiseguy” than he ever will be here) who has no flair for storytelling or even for filmmaking; the film is awash in dull angles, trite editing and dim tones to go along with all of the other mentioned nonsense. The film also has a reported budget of $37 million, but none of that actually appeared on the screen. Actors cost too much, I guess.

This would normally be a film I would pass on; a godawful rip off of better crime pictures that smacks of the 80’s and early 90’s stuff you would now find in the $6.88 DVD bin at WalMart. What got me interested in “Edison” was the fact this film was chosen to represent the closing of the 2005 Toronto Film Festival, a move that suggests that some sort of Canadian tax credit or sponsor is attached to the film and has paid for the film to be screened as a gala. For those of you who also don’t know, gala tickets cost around $30. There’s a reason that very few reviews of the film have surfaced on the internet so far, and also why the film lacks a distributor even a year after it has been made. The fact it also stars bankable names like Mr. Freeman and Mr. Spacey also tells you something. It could be Spacey’s hairpiece more than anything else.

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