In Action


Reviewed by: Jane Fae

In Action
"There is no single element here to excuse my visceral dislike of this film."

Obviously, I am missing something…

In Action is a short, vaguely action comedy that hinges on an oh-so-unsubtle piece of laddish irony. To wit: “a gimmick to film a movie over some weekends with no money.” Though even “movie” is stretching the point somewhat. Because what In Action provides is a podcast mediated by two guys sat side by side on a sofa and shouting and swearing at one another.

In between we have long stretches of two guys tied up side by side on chairs. And shouting and swearing at one another. But don’t worry. It’s not all about sitting. There are occasional scenes where the two guys stand side by side in a mocked-up bar and…shout and swear a lot. Two guys crawl through a smoke-filled space which, courtesy of suspended disbelief, we are expected to view as a ventilation duct. Two guys drive a pretend car… Two guys fire automatic weapons… Two guys are locked up in a cage together.

Oh. Did I mention? They shout and swear a lot!

Occasionally, if you get bored of the two guys vibe, additional characters pop up in the flesh, if not on the voice track (because as best I can tell all the speaking parts are done by the two guys) to threaten, cajole or mysteriously move the plot forward. I’ll not say realistically, because nothing about this film merits that epithet, and the voicing appears deliberately designed to inspire irritation above any other emotion.

Even more occasionally, when the action requirement exceeds two guys sat on chairs pretending to drive a car, the background is filled in by some wacky cartoons. Or, come the climax (which is a line that feels appropriate here), with a sort of lego/action figures mock-up. The blurb claims it as puppetry. I’d describe it as diorama onto which additional figures are dropped – literally - in order to illustrate 'action'.

What’s it all about? Tis variant on an old, old formula about life and art getting confused. Two screenwriters (Sean Kenealy and Eric Rivera) get back together to write a script about terrorists kidnapping the President’s daughter. Only they are investigated by the FBI and then mistaken for actual terrorists by some actual terrorists. And kidnapped. And tortured. At this point, I confess, I was rooting for the actual terrorists. Please hurt them!

There’s nothing wrong with the concept: after all, there are only so many original plots out there. Nothing wrong with opting for highly stylised, abstract staging. Nor even the fact that the two central characters are such a’holes: after all, Jay and Silent Bob are just one more recent duo to build a career out of same.

The swearing? The scatological humour (of which there is much, including far too much stuff about one of the guys shitting his pants)? And I did learn some new vocabulary, even if, perhaps I’d rather not. Grundle. And FUPA. Look them up, if you dare (I did…and now wish I hadn’t).

No. There is no single element here to excuse my visceral dislike of this film, so I’ll try and put it together. This is not experimental. So, the cheap staging is precisely that: cheap staging. The whole would work better as podcast. Except it relies far too much on a particular sort of comedy – loud laddish shouting – for me to be anything but alienated. I didn’t find it funny: was appalled by the extensive sexism…not to mention the occasional racist allusion…both of which, I suspect, the film-makers will claim as irony. Because they are subverting the genre, doncha know!

I am guessing there is some sort of audience for this, because it has picked up a slew of awards along the way. Possibly my teenage son, with whom I see eye to eye only slightly on film, will chide me with “you just don’t get it.” So here and now, I freely admit: I just don’t get it.

Reviewed on: 10 May 2021
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In Action packshot
When the government intercepts their script, believing it to be a veritable terrorist plot, two screenwriters find themselves in trouble.

Director: Sean Kenealy, Eric Silvera

Writer: Sean Kenealy, Eric Silvera

Starring: Sean Kenealy, Eric Silvera

Year: 2020

Runtime: 79 minutes

Country: US


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