Thumper 2017: In ‘Thumper’ everyone loses the war on drugs
There are several things that “Thumper” does remarkably well, and that’s saying a lot—in the past decade or so, films (and, indeed, television shows) on drugs, drug use, and the war on drugs, have steadily become more staple, enough to establish their own set of tropes and pitfalls. But “Thumper” does enough to both validate and subvert expectations, by allowing organic character beats to drive the plot, and intimate human relationships to steer us into unfamiliar territory.
The film’s leads—Pablo Schreiber as menacing meth cook Wyatt, Eliza Taylor as shrewd undercover cop Kat—hurl themselves (occasionally, quite literally) into their complex roles with ferocious commitment. From the opening scene, Schreiber brings a furious volcanic intensity into the frame, threatening to explode in a wave of fire and ash. Taylor adeptly matches his performance with what she’s given, brazenly going toe-to-toe with him—a notable feat, considering he towers an entire foot over her—and talking back when others fall silent.
But it is Daniel Webber’s vulnerable, downplayed Beaver—his arc mirrors Kat’s in a number of ways, one of the reasons they are drawn to one another—whose agency and actions becomes crucial. And it is Beaver’s relationship with Wyatt—in all its sad shades of fear, respect, anger, humiliation, and the need for validation—that changes everyone’s lives, for better or worse.
Other gritty performances include Grant Harvey as Wyatt’s cousin, Troy, who brings to mind a mild, not-so-far-gone Sick Boy, Jazzy De Lisser’s hard-boiled addict Gina, and Lena Headey’s overbearing, sneering Ellen. It goes without saying that “Thumper” owes much of its praise to its cast—although there is noticeable unevenness with the writing, particularly for the female roles.
Despite that unevenness, by the conclusion of the film, we are left with Kat, forced by her ordeal to take a hard look at who she is, and how what she has done has changed her. For a film that initially gives the impression of a creeping cynicism bordering on overwhelming pessimism, Kat’s recognition of the drug war for the vicious, violent cycle it is, and her firm decision to break away from it, speaks volumes. Taylor’s remarkable performance confirms her ability to bring to life characters with evolving moralities—I hope she continues to explore similarly challenging roles in other independent efforts, which may wisely recognize, and make the most of, her talent.
The film’s dedication to naturalism makes apparent director-writer Jordan Ross’s roots in documentary filmmaking, with the entire film shot with a hand-held camera, setting the film’s uncompromising tone. Effective films often affect emotionally and physically, and “Thumper” is one such film, evoking an undeniably visceral reaction, even on my second (and frankly, far more critical) viewing. It doesn’t matter if you suspect, through the film’s occasional familiar beats, or muted foreshadowing—or certainly know, as I did that second time—what comes next; how the film takes you there will leave you momentarily breathless, at times, shaken, and by the end, entirely struck.
(Author: SK Mole (canondefiant) – imdb)
Thumper 2017: Nothing New
I kind of like gritty movies about the drug underworld. This one was just OK. All the elements were there but the movie didn’t really do much for me.
My main problem is I didn’t like any of the characters. Even the protagonist. They all made such dumb decisions. And even the scenes of the protagonist’s home life which felt like they were supposed to earn her sympathy ended up just being sad.
Not a bad movie by any means. But certainty not a great one. I suspect younger audience might like this more than those over 30. For me the movie was hard to connect with.
In a month or so I’ll probably forget this movie completely and that is it’s worst sin- being unmemorable.
(Author: Sawyer-4815162342 – imdb)