Monday, September 4, 2017

Movie Review: "What Happened to Monday" (2017)

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Movie"What Happened to Monday"
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Year: 2017
Rating: NR
Running Time: 2 hours, 3 minutes

In an overpopulated future, the new government has put a law in place that mandates each couple can only have one child. The grandfather of identical septuplets, who has named the girls after each day of the week, raises them to survive by sharing one single life under the pseudonym Karen Settman. If the girls are ever discovered, they will be rounded up and placed in cryo-storage for the foreseeable future. The girls grow up and begin to fear the worst when one of their sisters doesn't come home one evening.

We are big science fiction fans, and we especially love movies with original concepts. "What Happened to Monday" has an interesting enough plot, so we thought we would give this new Netflix original a try one evening, especially considering we've heard about this movie a time or two on Film Twitter. It is directed by Tommy Wirkola, who has directed mostly tongue-in-cheek action/horror films like "Dead Snow," "Dead Snow 2," and "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters." His latest movie, however, does not contain the same tone or playfulness. It takes itself far too seriously, almost trying to convince the audience it is least it's trying to be. That may be because, unlike the other three aforementioned movies, the screenplay for this flick was not written by Wirkola himself. It is penned by Max Botkin (whose only previous writing credits are family movies) and Kerry Williamson, who is at least partially responsible for the screenplay for "Alex Cross," you know, the one that tried to turn Tyler Perry into an action star? Yeah, that one.

"What Happened to Monday" tells the story of the Settman sisters, a set of identical septuplets named Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, all played by Noomi Rapace. In their future world, there is a massive overpopulation problem which has led to laws that only allow one child per couple. If more than one kid is born, the remaining siblings are rounded up a placed in cryostasis...or so the government says. These kids will be kept in cryo-sleep until they are in the Utopian future when all of the hunger problems of the world are solved. Translation (to us, at least): never! To stay hidden, these seven individuals live their lives as one woman named Karen Settman, a feat they have pulled off for years, until one day, one of them disappears... gee, which one could it be? #RereadTheTitle

When an actor/actress pulls double, triple, or septuple duty, it can be a fantastic opportunity for that actor/actress to showcase their broad range and skills as a performer (think Peter Sellers in "Doctor Strangelove"). On the other hand, it can also highlight an actor's enormous lack of range as well (think Adam Sandler in "Jack and Jill"). In this case, we believe Rapace's performance, unfortunately, falls into the latter category. Her range and sense of identity have more to do with costuming and hairstyles than true personal variation or nuanced acting. At one point, I turned to BigJ and asked him, "Is Noomi Rapace a good actress orrrrrrrr...?????" Despite the screenplay telling us the entire origin of the girls in addition to giving us a glimpse at their childhood, we never feel all that connected to any of them as individuals. The film really wants to explore the idea of personal identity and how lacking one is its own kind of prison, but it almost wholly fails to do so. It also examines the morality of the survival of the species and debates the good of the collective outweighing personal freedoms, but it never feels like the stakes are all that high until the middle of its run time. "What Happened to Monday" restores ideas like China's one child policy, or practices like eugenics, mass sterilization, and the genocides performed by the Nazis, but handles these topics so sloppily and in such a rudimentary, surface level way that it really fails to engage the audience. The one thing this movie does have going for it is its solid action sequences and interesting fight scenes. These moments are by far the best part of this film, but in all honesty, we can watch any low-level martial arts flick for something of that nature.

While there are moments of intensity due to some killer fight sequences and prolonged scenes of action, the rest of "What Happened to Monday" just feels like some pseudo-intellectual crap that has a ham-fisted "save the planet message" that's immediately corrupted as the good guys turn out to be not so good, and the good guys may have bad intentions. Those trying to find a solution aren't what they seem, which is a huge sci-fi genre trope. We've seen this scenario play out time and time again in other sub par action dramas; we had hoped this movie could bring something new to the table and it just doesn't.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 62%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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