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7.12.08

P2 (2007)

Director: Franck Khalfoun Starring: Rachel Nichols, Wes Bentley Rated R Running time: 98 minutes Released by Summitt Entertainment

It's Christmas eve, and workoholic Heather is running late for a family get together. She waits until the last possible minute to leave her Park Avenue office building, and wouldn't you know it, her car will not start. She enlists the aid of the seemingly affable parking attendant, Thomas (Wes Bentley), to help her out of this predicament. Thomas seems to be a tad smitten with the busty Heather, and when she declines his dinner invitation, he reacts by turning into a Category 5 lunatic. Thomas seals the buildings exits and begins stalking the object of his affection. P2 didn't make much of a splash when it appeared in theaters, and I wouldn't have paid much mind to the film had it not been for the very eye-catching DVD cover art, depicting star Rachel Nichols brandishing some sort of weapon, bosom heaving furiously. I took the bait, which is a testament to power of advertising. As an added bonus, the film was masterminded by the folks who brought us Haute Tension, a film I liked in spite of an ending that felt like a massive blow-off. I was expecting a gory actioner that was simultaneously crowd pleasing and frustrating. And that is exactly what I got. Since the film sidesteps complex plotting, it relies on tension and inventive cat-and-mouse action to hold viewers interest. The problem is that aside from one well-executed scene involving an elevator and a firehose (which likely exists only as an excuse to get Rachel Nichols wet), the film doesn't strive to be particularly creative in regards to the predator and prey element, which is the meat of the film. Sure, there's one really gory murder to spice things up, and a very eye-pleasing heroine who always seems on the verge of spilling out of her dress, but it just isn't enough to keep the film from becoming tedious. That's a bad thing, because once the viewer gets bored he starts asking all of the questions the makers do not want him to ask: can stun guns really knock somebody out cold? why doesn't she pull the fire alarm? does that enormous building really only have one security guard? do her fingernails always come off that easily? Plausibilty goes out the window, and there isn't enough excitement to keep your disbelief in check. Speaking of disbelief, let's talk about the film's psycho, American Beauty's Wes Bentley. There are a lot of adjectives that come to mind when thinking of Bentley and scary, intimidating, and threatening aren't among them. Bentley is perfectly acceptable in the early stages of the film, even managing to convey a little awkward charm as the lovelorn parking lot attendant. When he goes into full-blown loony mode, it's another story altogether. He screams, he kills, he has a Rotteweiler as a companion and possesses the world's most powerful stungun - but I never once got the impression that he could not be stopped by simply finding his stash of Cure CD's and stomping then to pieces before his very eyes. 

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