'The American Side' Review

'The American Side' Review

By Nick Leyland May 03, 2016 07:59PM EDT
40% Review Score: 4 / 10
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The American Side (2016)

OK, let’s get started talking about this new thriller The American Side. The premise to this Jenna Ricker directed film online reads “Following a mysterious suicide at Niagara Falls, a low-rent detective unravels a conspiracy to build a revolutionary invention by enigmatic scientist, Nikola Tesla.” This sounds like a pretty promising premise and had me intrigued; especially because of the inclusions of Matthew Broderick whom which I haven’t seen much of lately. Unfortunately, the film ended up being a little too disorienting for me to handle.

The film begins with us meeting private eye Charlie Paczynski (Greg Stuhr) and his accomplice, Kat (Kelsey Siepser), as they investigate cheating husbands using Kat as the bait. One night on the job they find themselves mixed up with the wrong people and Kat ends up getting killed. This throws Charlie on a mission to find out what happened to Kat and who is behind her murder. 

Throughout the rest of the film we follow Charlie as he uncovers pieces to a very, very large puzzle that involves the suicide of a college professor, going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, a brilliant and extremely sexy engineer named Nikki (Alicja Bachleda) designing a machine that only a handful of people in the world could design, an FBI agent played by Janeane Garofalo who may or may not be who she says she is, a rich psychotic villain played by Matthew Broderick that seems to be trying to take over the world, his sister Emily (Camilla Belle) playing the damsel in distress, some sort of plan to uncover a theory of limitless free energy by famous inventor Nikola Tesla and a whole bunch of other plot points and characters that I can’t really remember. Sounds like a lot to follow? It kind of was.

I feel bad that I’m not able to give The American Side a better rating but to be completely honest, it was just too confusing. First off, there were way too many characters. I was so lost with trying to keep up with who people were that I eventually just gave up. It seemed like every scene had a new person talking in it. Plot points that didn’t make sense to me like Janeane Garofalo’s character, what going over the American side of the falls had to do with anything and why Charlie ever got thrown into this mess in the first place. Also, the dialogue really came across scripted and included lines like “One man’s nuts is another man’s balls.” What the hell does that even mean?

I do want to focus on some of the positives of the film as I think that is important. Director Jenna Ricker did some good work on getting decent shots and not just sticking to a one camera approach. She changed up locations often throughout the film which made the movie feel more like an adventure. She had some great ideas in this film but she may have watered them down by putting in too much for the audience to follow. I really hope she uses this experience to help her films in the future and I do look forward to seeing more from her.

Maybe I just didn’t fully comprehend what the film was trying to do, I do encourage everyone to watch and judge for themselves, but this just was not a film for me. The American Side opened last week at the IFC theater.

Tags: The American Side (2016), Matthew Broderick, Camilla Belle
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