By the time The Crash stumbles to its absurd conclusion, it’s hard to know what happened and even harder to care.
Writer-director Aram Rappaport’s new techno-financial thriller The Crash is set in the near future but is so crusty that it feels about 20 years past its due. The sets appear to have been cobbled together from “24”’s leftovers while the music starts out sounding like an episode of “Dragnet” before transitioning to a series fast-paced beeps and bops that were likely a last-ditch effort to add some tension to the limp plot.
Said plot starts with a group of brusque government men wringing their hands about a potential financial crisis while a sassy female colleague (Mary McCormack, playing an older, less-Sorkin version of her “The West Wing” character) tells them exactly what is happening while none of them listen. Enter Guy Clifton (Frank Grillo, slumming it after a recent string of successes like the Purge and Captain America franchises), a legendary financial Robin Hood type who is tasked with preventing the aforementioned potential crisis. Meanwhile, he’s also doing his best to irritate his wife, Shannon (Minnie Driver, who deserves better), and cancer-stricken daughter, Creason (AnnaSophia Robb).
A lot of the problem with The Crash’s first third is that it is quite unclear as to where the film is headed. The tone, the presence of Grillo, the sad wife/sick kid subplot and the Wikipedia-provided financial details for the script make it seem as if it is about to turn into an action fest. Which could have been fun. Instead, Guy assembles a team of white-collar criminals to help him protect the stock market from malevolent forces and no action ensues. We spend a lot of time watching Guy and Shannon suffer over Creason’s illness while McCormack continues to be ignored by a variety of ignorant men. Occasionally, one of the side characters (played by excellent actors like John Leguizamo, Ed Westwick, Dianna Agron and Maggie Q, who should all fire their agents) tosses in a few facts about the stock market, computers and/or cancer.
There is very little to recommend The Crash other than the actors, who have proven their talents elsewhere (though little is on display here). Smart financial dramas have had a bit of a renaissance in recent years with films like The Big Short, Margin Call and The Wolf of Wall Street, so the idea behind The Crash makes sense, particularly given the light dystopian angle of having it set in the near future with the stock market on the brink of collapse. But financial dramas need to feel smart, they need to move fast and they have to make sense, none of which The Crash accomplishes.
By the time The Crash stumbles to its absurd conclusion (which appropriately relies on 16 year old computers), it’s hard to know what happened and even harder to care. While it’s always nice to see good actors get works, you can’t help but think everyone involved would have been better off avoiding The Crash.