On this episode of The Nightly Chill, we look at thriller-drama, Mall, directed by Linkin Park’s Joe Hahn.
Mall tells the would-be tragic story of an emotionally unstable addict by the name of Mal, a man who decides to go on a killing spree one morning.
Why he does this is never really made all that clear or relevant. All we do know is that, eventually, he takes his
whirlwind of death and destruction to the titular mall–a setting that hasn’t been socially relevant in over 20 years.
MALLRATS, BUT NOT
The bottom line regarding Mall is that it simply doesn’t work. Imagine Kevin Smith’s Mallrats as a somber film featuring a goofy, pretentious college student pining after a girl with no discernible qualities other than being pretty, a random pervert, and a mall rampage…instead of a comedy which also features all of these things.
The charm, wit, self-awareness, and likable characters of Mallrats are absent. Instead, we’re presented with several unsympathetic, vapid placeholders. And Mallrats‘ several wafer-thin plots are all replaced with nothing of interest.
VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCE
But aside from committing the grave cinematic sin of being uninteresting, Mall also goes a step further by operating in a ridiculously small world of sheer coincidence.
For example, the police officer who we see hassle a young man at the top of the film also happens to be the same one
who arrives at the mall to arrest Vincent D’Onofrio’s Danny, a man caught peeping on a desperate housewife-type in a fitting room.
In fact, everyone we meet and follow prior to Mal’s arrival at the mall is pointed out and given eerily accurate summaries of their entire characters by another character, Jeff. Mal himself is even revealed to be the son of a character who also happens to be at the mall simply because the script demands it.
What could have been–what should have been an introspective narrative that shows us how several lives are
affected by a sudden, terrible tragedy…is reduced to a series of loosely connected scenes that quickly abandon any
pretense of telling a cohesive or meaningful story.
Mall is a well-shot, decently acted movie with some interesting ideas that also has some terrible, on-the-nose
dialog and a plot that refuses to go anywhere. Worse, it desperately wants to be seen as far deeper and smarter than it really is.
Now, it could be argued that the film is possibly an intentional send-up of the problems present in many similar
films because of the way it blatantly waves around its own. But just because a film can accurately point out the glaring flaws of those around it doesn’t necessarily mean it has
anything worth saying.
Mall certainly has nothing worth saying, nor does it present anything worth watching…aside from D’Onofrio’s performance, perhaps. And that’s why I can’t give it anything other than a NO CHILL.