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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Exposed 2016 * 1/2 Stars

ExposedDirector: Declan Dale
Year: 2016
Rated R
Rating: * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Ana de Armas, Mira Sorvino

Unknown director (with a pseudonym to boot). Generic title. Big name stars who you sense are doing it for a paycheck. Released by way of video on demand instead of theatrical. Sound familiar? It should. If you've seen reviews for movies like The Prince or Vice, then Exposed (my latest write-up) is embedded in that category. Yeah it's lousy like the aforementioned vehicles but in a different way. Vice and "Prince" have a sense of coherency. You can mostly follow their every beat. Exposed is just messy. There were times when I didn't know what it was that I saw. So OK, what were you thinking Mira Sorvino? What were you thinking Michael Rispoli? And Christopher McDonald, what the heck?

Anyway, watching this thing is like viewing two different films at once. I don't know how to classify it. You could call Exposed a nonprofessional indie. You could call it a crime drama/supernatural charade. Heck, you could claim it to be a foreign language flick starring Keanu "whoa" Reeves (huh?). No matter how you interpret things, there's 102 minutes here that feel like 3 hours. When its best performance is given by a washed-up, recluse rapper (Big Daddy Kane), you know the proceedings are in trouble. When its opening sequence takes forever and sets a bad precedent for what lies ahead, you know the proceedings are in trouble. And finally, when its director doesn't want to reveal his (or her) actual name, you know the proceedings are in trouble. Exposed can easily be renamed, Excruciating.

Speaking of said director, he may be a rookie or he may be a veteran. Either way, Declan Dale (or whatever his name is) lets you know it's amateur night right off the bat. It's clear from the opening credits (of Exposed) that he can't effectively set up a shot, can't frame a scene, doesn't know when to infuse a close-up, doesn't know where to put the camera, doesn't use a zoom out at the right time, and can't juggle his many, muddled subplots. Scenes in Exposed are either too long-winded or not nearly long enough. And Dale's editing team could have been a pack of monkeys and the audience wouldn't even know the difference. Tone is absent, dramatic momentum starts up only to get sucked into the wind, and laughable overacting comes on like gangbusters. I paid $6.99 to watch this movie on XFINITY. If I paid $1.50 for it on Redbox, it still would have been a bad investment.

Filmed in an uncommon part of New York City, distributed by Lionsgate Premiere, and originally titled Daughter of God, Exposed jots back and forth to chronicle the lives of two different, combative characters. First we have Scott Galban (played by Keanu Reeves). He is your typical, doom and gloom detective. His wife passed away, his son has been taken from him, he has almost no friends, and his partner (Joey Cullen played by Danny Hoch) just got murdered in an underground subway. Galban against mild orders from his superior (Lt. Galway played by Christopher McDonald), investigates the reality of his partner's death. He goes around asking questions yet every witness he talks to, gets murdered. Second, there's Isabel de La Cruz (played by Ana de Armas). She's the only witness that Galban hasn't talked to yet. Her character is borderline schizo. She becomes pregnant by way of a miracle, she has visions of ghostly apparitions, there's a side plot about her husband being stationed in Iraq, and she ultimately wanders the film as though she's a lost puppy. Throughout Exposed, we as the audience see Isabel the most (even though her and Keanu's Scott are loosely connected). Many frustrating scenes involve Isabel, her family, and her friends constantly gabbing in Spanish (when all of them obviously speak English). As for Reeves, well we only discern his screen time in bits and pieces. His presence is never developed or consistent. Like I mentioned in the second paragraph, Exposed feels like you're watching two separate vignettes altogether. They're so unconnected from each other, it makes the film totally shapeless. When every plot element finally comes full circle (in the concluding clips), you feel the damage has already been done. Exposed "exposes" itself to be a real scrape. Rating: 1 and a half stars.

Of note: A lot of death occurs in Exposed yet we never see it. Heck, we don't even view any of the actual aftermath. It's like the film is trying to be 1995's Se7en but is too lazy to explain how A led to B. Is it possible the studios didn't want to go over budget? Maybe. Is it possible director Dale didn't know how to make homicide scenes look believable? Maybe so. Or did the special effects crew run out of fake blood? Oh yeah, that's it. Yeesh! Also of note: I usually give Keanu Reeves a pass because a lot of moviegoers think he can't act. I've seen him do solid work in Point Break, Speed, and Street Kings. I know what he's capable of. In Exposed however, he hits a wall by showing us the ultimate, wooden moment. There's a scene where he sits in his police car, gets upset, shows frustration, yells at himself, and bangs his hands on the steering wheel. To say this is laughable would be an understatement.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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