BOTTOM LINE: This Tiresome Action Thriller Leaves You Cold
|Platform: Netflix||Genre: Thriller|
Skin and swear: Contains multiple lovemaking sequences, strong language
What Is the Story About?
The world is staring at a crisis, a natural calamity of sorts, with the exposure to the sun leading to deaths at an alarming scale across the globe. An army officer in a flight that’s heading towards Moscow from Brussels alerts the pilot and his co-passengers about this. Expectedly, it creates panic and elicits unpredictable reactions. The food supply is minimal, the fuel is on the verge of exhaustion, the pilot is injured, a passenger is dead – can anything get worse? Will this bunch manage to escape the wrath of the sun and survive this together? The story is based on the digital novel The Old Axolotl, written by author Jacek Dukaj.
The psychological evolution of a character like Sylvie offers a great chance for a composed performance and Pauline Etienne is terrific in reflecting her character’s internal chaos, as opposed to what was happening around her. Laurent Capelluto’s portrayal of Mathieu makes you understand guilt on a deeper level and how humanly errors don’t need to be looked like a blot on one’s personality. Stefano Cassetti has a fascinating character in the form of Terenzio – though you never understand him fully, the actor’s powerful, sharp pair of eyes casts a light on the deeper layers that exist within him. Alba Gaïa Bellugi, Ksawery Szlenkier, Jan Bijvoet too get a decent scope to prove their worth.
A flight full of people hailing from contrasting backgrounds, diverse nationalities, speaking different languages and trying to survive an apocalypse-like situation together – it’s a pitch-perfect starting point for any writer/filmmaker to visualise a drama. Readers may be reminded of the Hollywood thriller 2012 which effectively channelised the eccentricity of the situation into a poignant and a mostly engaging narrative. Such a setting is a great opportunity to comment on our similarities, our cultural differences, our innate biases, and the ability to tackle a situation where a better tomorrow may not even be a possibility. Into the Night does all of this, but it still leaves you cold and unaffected.
The first mistake it commits is to not dwell upon the crisis with any clarity. It has Whatsapp University-level understanding of science, geography and meteorology and doesn’t consider it necessary to explain why exposure to sunshine can lead one to death. Most of the time, you’re suspicious about the character of the passenger who had come up with this supposedly-audacious claim. You understand the panic within the flight, but refuse to invest in the seriousness of the situation. An apocalypse-like situation is of course never something one can anticipate or plan for. However, beyond that, the filmmaker should have taken more care to lend authenticity to the claim and explain it smartly to the viewer.
The filmmakers’ interest to shape it into a drama is also a cause for confusion – the character arcs of many parts appear to be compromised for the want of narrative tension. While every episode is named after a particular character, the narrative only offers glimpses of their past, which haven’t been written interestingly anyways. There are passengers with a criminal background, have connections with terrorist groups, have livelihood problems, issues with relationships. From a mother selling her kidney for her son’s treatment to a woman’s self-pity while mourning the loss of her partner to a middle-aged man finding love on a dating site and a pilot’s affair with an air hostess, there is colourful characterisation. However, it doesn’t mean they have emotional depth.
Into the Night is terrific when it tries to capture the raw emotions of its characters – the hasty verbal banters, the petty scuffles, the quest for showmanship and the unexpected heroic streaks. Several sequences explain the complexity of the human psyche admirably well. The show of valour from one of its lead characters Sylvie too isn’t sudden – you get to know her struggles with self-belief. There are numerous logical loopholes and pacing issues that undermine the good that Into the Night does. It merits a watch, yes, but don’t expect it to overwhelm you.
Music and Other Departments?
Composer Photek’s nervy background score captures the moist tension in the narrative superbly. It becomes an integral part of the storytelling and never becomes this individualistic craft that shines. Filming can be challenging when a significant portion of a narrative is set within the same backdrop, yet cinematographer Thomas Hardmeier strives hard to make this a riveting visual experience with the jerks, motional nature of the storytelling. The character’s backstories are among the show’s hugest weaklings. The narrative feels redundant from a screenwriting perspective – it’s like a different story is being narrated similarly in every episode. A few smart edits may have helped the makers avoid this drawback.
The tension in the narrative
The idea of a crisis amid clashes between people of various backgrounds
The decent performances
Several logical loopholes
Repetitive nature of the storytelling
Not much emotional connect
Did I Enjoy It?
Only in parts
Will You Recommend It?
Probably, to those who have amazing tolerance levels
Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur
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