ALREADY DEAD self-describes the second-half progression and 3rd Act results of this nasty oddball crime thriller from 2008, which for some reason drew the co-starring participation of the redoubtable Christopher Plummer (everyone needs money).
Once a happy and successful architect, ‘Thomas Archer’ (Ron Eldard) cannot find peace, let alone any justice, when the cops shelve investigating the home invasion which killed his son and the babysitter and mauled his wife. Advice from a detective consists of doing whatever it takes to find the guy and “roast him on a spit” (we concur), which sets up meeting a psychiatrist (Plummer) whose counseling fails until he sets in motion a scenario (through people that are “serious, deadly serious“) that will—for a hefty fee—allow Archer one-on-one payback with the guilty party—with an array of tools to choose from. Your basic bastard-in-a-basement situation.
Effective first third sees the tense set-up and ouch-that-would-really-hurt vengeance volley doled out to the perp, a variation on both Saw and Hostel. But when Archer finds—after some grisly work—that the bad guy (Til Schweiger) may not be the right guy, the story arc turns the despairing pair into cats & mice action against those controlling the scene.
Eldard is good and Plummer is always compelling, but the spin has so many logic holes it shreds and ends with a thwunk in an absurd finale. Schweiger, a multi-talented German actor & director/writer/producer/editor, has an impressive look, but his accent works against him and he goes way overboard with the tried & true “acting” gimmick of breathing hard to suggest tension: he does this in scenes that don’t call for it and it looks silly. As it is, he’s most convincing with a gag in his mouth, reacting to various pulverizings from Eldard.
In outline, it has the feel of a King-like short story, but it blows it. Guilt for this crime against coherence mainly falls on Joe Chapelle (who’d had various credits from the superb TV series The Wire). Directed by Joe Otting, his feature debut. Apparently it was done for around $2,500,000, but scant reviews are available and no reliable boxoffice tally turns up.
With Patrick Kilpatrick and Marisa Coughlan (throwaway role as the wife). 93 minutes.