by Andy Weston
“The Throwaways”: Never has a movie been more aptly named.
If you were to play a drinking game where the idea was to take a shot every time you rolled your eyes at a film’s lapse in logic, watching “The Throwaways” would have you blitzed before the 20 minute mark.
Sam Huntington (“Being Human”, “Superman Returns”) plays Drew Reynolds, an elite hacker who is tasked by the CIA, specifically Lt. Col. Holden (James Caan), to help them locate a lost “key” that allows access to a program that can let anyone who uses it hack power plant controls, airlines and all other sorts of ridiculous things.
Once Reynolds agrees to help thwart the terroristic threats to the world, he is given the go ahead to assemble his team. In this group of walking clichés are actors Kevin Dillon, Katie McGrath and Christian Hillborg.
None of the actors involved are bad at their craft, but they are given very little to do here. Dillon plays the violence-loving soldier who was demoted to an office job, McGrath is a tough agent who never gets taken seriously because of her good looks, and Hillborg is the moustached buffoon who runs from any less-than-simple situation.
Huntington plays his normal, socially awkward self, as he has for most of his career. He does a good enough job making Drew likeable and is believable as a hacker.
However, Caan and McGrath are both wasted in roles that require next to no effort. Caan, plays the gruff senior who is “too old for this shit,” and McGrath plays it fairly straight as a tough woman looking for her shot to get in with the boys.
The only rays of light that shine through are Dillon and, especially, Hillborg. The fact that the audience isn’t meant to see them as anything more than walking gags actually helps their case. The characters have a prior history of working together that lends itself to a lot of humor. Luckily, the actors share the chemistry needed to pull off the dynamic.
The film was produced for distribution on Crackle, so no one should be expecting high production value in the first place, but you wouldn’t be alone in mistaking this for a cable TV movie. The stunt work and cinematography are just south of something you would find on the USA Network.
Budgetary issues aside, there is no excuse for the low-quality writing and directing on display here.
A highlight is when the four “Throwaways” are tailing a broker who is trying to sell a key to the world-ending program.
Each actor is seen clearly talking into their sleeves or shirt collar, sometimes mere feet away from the target. Now, I’m no expert at counter-surveillance, but if the man who just made my coffee began to talk into his shirt while no one else was near him, it would seem at least a little strange. To top this all off, Hillborg’s character proceeds to follow the broker, who is on foot, in his noisy clunker of a car. Is the car back a ways, out of sight? Of course not; that makes too much sense. Instead he drives right alongside him, eluding all detection.
I know that most spy films require a suspension of disbelief, but there comes a point when too much is just too much, which happens more than its share in this film. A computer program that can hack random gas lines? Check. A terrorist threat coming from Belgium? Sure. At least it’s original. A romantic relationship built up over only five minutes of screen time? Why not? Who wouldn’t be invested? And, last but not least, great one-liners like “Shalom, mother*%&ers” in spades.
The most surprising and interesting things about this movie come during the credits. It’s then that you realize it took two people to write it and that Jeremy Renner (“The Avengers”) produced it. Of all the scripts that go through his hands, one has to wonder why he decided to turn this one into a reality.
There aren’t many new releases in theaters this weekend, and even though “The Throwaways” is available for free, I suggest you pick up a book instead, and have yourself a nice read. The one thing this film can take from you is your time, and you can never get that back.