Wim Wender's film meanders through a number of loosely connected sequences with the actors seemingly deprived of sleep for days before the shoot in order to deliver performances that are the epitome of low key.
Different strands of the story are slowly introduced: Mike Max (Bill Pullman), a Hollywood producer who makes gory action thrillers; Cat (Traci Lind), a stunt woman on his films; his wife Paige (Andy McDowell) who is about to leave him.
A seemingly disparate strand involves surveillance expert Ray Bering (Gabriel Byrne) who uses cameras located around Los Angeles to spy on just about everything. Then there is Detective Block (Loren Dean) who is called in when Max disappears.
It all goes into the blender, but as each character is introduced, it opens up sequences that constantly pull away from the main thread of the story, which has Max inadvertently receiving a secret document. Among the distractions are scenes involving Bering's father (Sam Fuller), an acting school, and the making of one of Max's films featuring a recreation of the café in Edward Hopper's painting "Nighthawks". The soundtrack by Ry Cooder and others has a detached quality bearing little relationship to the action on screen.
Maybe it looked better on paper, but old Wim is such a lover of the obscure that he often cuts away when anything exciting begins to happen. It's hard to pinpoint where you realise the film isn't working; it just slowly slides into inertia. Without giving them away, the surprises at the end seem like a frantic attempt to breathe life into a body that we have already pronounced dead.
The film feels a little like "Mulholland Dr.", but of course it was made a few years before Lynch's film. Along with the obscurification, it's probably the setting, the unusual hit men, the association with filmmaking and the acting auditions that does it.
If the point of the story was how in the attempt to end violence, surveillance methods and powerful government bodies end up creating more, then it's a ponderous message.
The film was in that run of movies that featured interweaving stories that collide at the end; "Magnolia" and "Crash", as well as Altman's brilliant "Short Cuts". However it's a complex format that doesn't really attract me to watching them again. That goes double for "The End of Violence".
The End of Violence
The End of Violence
Mike Max is a Hollywood producer who became powerful and rich thanks to brutal and bloody action films. His ignored wife Paige is close to leaving him. Suddenly Mike is kidnapped by two bandits, but escapes and hides out with his Mexican gardener's family for a while. At the same time, surveillance expert Ray Bering is looking for what happens in the city, but it is not clear what he wants. The police investigation for Max's disappearance is led by detective Doc Block, who falls in love with actress Cat who is playing in ongoing Max's production.
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March 29, 2015 at 11:14 AM