Foolproof Bill Phillips

Foolproof Bill Phillips
One of the first films produced under Telefilm Canada's new mandate aimed at procuring a whopping five percent of its domestic box office over the next few years through the production of "commercial movies," Bill Phillips' second feature film, Foolproof, provides him the opportunity to work with a bigger budget through a more recognisable cast, including leads Ryan Reynolds, Kristin Booth and Joris Jarsky, and a media ad campaign set to rival that of Men With Brooms, the similarly Alliance Atlantis funded (and ultimately irrelevant) commercial attempt from last year.

As proper and basic screenwriting method, you can't argue with much of Phillips plot: a group of three post-college buddies who plan exquisitely detailed, large scale heists they "play out" for kicks in private are suddenly confronted by a gangster (Mr. Poirot himself, David Suchy) who has stolen their plans, used them for a recently successful diamond theft and is now blackmailing them into a 20 million dollar bond heist (in Toronto no less).

As with his debut feature, Treed Murray, Phillips specialises in placing characters in high-strung situations in which their truly good, after school special human nature rises to the surface, thereby allowing them to overcome their inexplicably instilled stereotypes —prototypically female, or young and unsure, for example — and making them wiser, stronger people for the experience.

It all sounds harmless and peachy, until you have to actually see the film, at which point you realise any remote spark of directorial vision is non-existent, at times even forcing the editing into split screens impossibly designed to make a close-up of Reynolds intense face on one side and his hands picking a door lock on the other an exhilarating experience.

The music is similarly a product effort — neither of the recently popular Sam Roberts or Dandy Warhol tunes have any relationship with the movie's story or atmosphere, other than, of course, to reflect the movie's only real common theme: pleasing a large cardboard cut-out market. At least things can only get better from here, but in the meantime it's really a shame to see both Phillips and Telefilm banking on the Canadian audience being both simple and stupid enough to buy this shit. (Alliance Atlantis)