The Loft Review

Posted: December 19, 2014 in Reviews, Thriller
Tags: , , , , , ,

The LoftThe Loft is a serviceable thriller with a cast culled largely from American television and enough twists for the audience to overlook its uneven pace and its tenuous logic.

Five male friends decide to share a condominium for their extracurricular and extramarital activities, and it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. In this genre, it’s invariably a dead naked blonde wrapped in bed sheets who gets the short end. Which of the five is responsible or is someone outside the group trying to set one or more of them up are the questions that drive the action.

Karl Urban (Doctor McCoy in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek films and the detective from the short-lived Fox series Almost Human) is Vincent Stevens, an architect who has saved a special piece of his latest project for himself and his buddies: a corner studio apartment that features a king-sized bed with a headboard that is just perfect to write a bloody message in Latin on. Ooops, was that an unflagged spoiler? Uh, no. The Loft is one of those movies that starts at the end, then jumps to the middle, and cuts back and forth along the timeline, before concluding with an explanation of what you saw at the opening.

Despite the frenetic shifts from backstory to crime scene to interrogation room, the story languishes at times as director Erik Van Looy and screenwriter Wesley Strick, working from the script by Bart De Pauw for the 2008 Belgian film Loft, sacrifice pace for exposition and emphasize the sheer number of suspects rather than focusing on a few and developing their characters and possible motives. We are left with archetypes: frumpy wifes who are brunettes, while the hookers and mistresses are leggy blondes. Politicians are sleezy; father-in-laws are worse. For the viewer, the games is as much about who was that as whodunit.

There is a tongue-in-cheek quality to the casting of Urban’s friends and accomplices. Eric Stonestreet, best known for being one-half of America’s favorite fictional gay couple on Modern Family, plays Marty Landry, an absolute hound. Meanwhile, Wentworth Miller who made a name for himself in the uber-macho show Prison Break before publically identifying himself as a gay man, portrays Luke Seacord, a character whose sexual preferences become a part of the story.

Rounding out the group is James Marsden (30 Rock) and Matthias Schoenarts who play half-brothers Chris and Filip, while it is Marsden and Urban who bear such a strong resemblance that it is difficult to tell them apart. Schoenarts is the lone holdover from the orginal Belgian film, which was also directed by Van Looy. In fact, the unmade The Making of The Loft might be more interesting than the film itself. Production was divided between Brussels and New Orleans and completed in 2011. The finished product has sat on the shelf until its European release in December 2014, which will be followed by its U.S. premiere in 2015.

Despite that warning flag, the movie is perfectly watchable. The ensemble cast is attractive, and while only Rachel Taylor as Ann truly stands out, all acquit themselves as professionals. Director Van Looy works a little screen magic with sleight of hand and misdirection. The first two twists are strong, but the third is a reach and diminshes the effectiveness of the ending by a shade. Watching this one at home may be preferable to the theater so that you can compare notes on the suspects as you go along.

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