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Replay (2003)
Filmmaker(s): Lee Bonner

The viewer becomes the eyes of two detectives who never appear on camera as they unravel a mystery on a video screen, watching tapes from twenty-one hidden cameras which have captured a crime in progress. Three gunmen break into the home of gem dealer Seth Collison to steal the Sophia Diamond, a thirty-three carat stone valued at ten million dollars. Five minutes later the gunmen are dead. The case is closed before police find out about the hidden cameras. At eleven o'clock that night, the task of watching the tapes falls to secondary detectives Blu and Scotty. Through their eyes we discover what really went down.

Replay (2003)


I saw this under the title of ’21 Eyes’.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a movie good, or better, what makes it likeable. It seems there are all sorts of paths into likability. The emotional engagement, the world that surrounds it, the titillation, the challenge. Sometimes it is not the movie itself at all, but the memory of it.

Or. Or the idea of it. Mel Gibson’s Jesus movie was a success based on the idea of the thing. All the movie itself had to do was support that idea. So-called puzzle movies fit this.

Now here’s the interesting question. “Irreversible” and “Memento” were powerfully engaging. (“Irreversible” is a puzzle movie much deeper than the other.) Do we like these because they used the puzzle to trick us into engaging? Or is it the other way around?

Do we like “Timecode” because it requires investment and we make it, or because the idea of the thing is so cool we get the thrill from ideasurfing?

This movie is an odd one. It just barely misses. I’m tempted to think that with a different voiceover tone and script it would be a cult hit. It seems to have already gone through some re-engineering. I’ve seen the DVD version and it sounds as if the original version was a bit more risky and to my taste.

What you have here is what I call a completely folded film. A simple folded case would be a movie that has a movie within it and the two reinforce each other in some way. In this case, all we see, 100 per cent, is the movie within, literally many (I didn’t count 21) surveillance cameras filming one short sequence: a robbery and four deaths.

We hear but never see two detectives and occasional buddies watching these and teasing out the hidden solution. There’s only one red herring and it isn’t a very complex mystery. The adjustment for the DVD seems to have made the solution easier, and that’s a shame.

It is a very, very cool idea, though, cool enough for me to value it worth watching. The idea is the thing here. The movie, well it has some deficiencies. But among them surely isn’t the editing.

You know, bad editing is something that kills a movie without the viewer knowing why. On the other hand, it can be a silent goddess charming you into the thing. The poor quality of the video, the uninspired voiceover, the simple mystery. All these things are largely overlooked because of the way the engaging camera angles, the obvious voyeurism, and the clever editing draw us in.

“Snake Eyes” may be the coolest of this type. This could be the “Cube” of this genre.

Posted in 2006

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.



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