Written by J. Weagle
When he finds you. Run.
On paper The Demolisher sounds incredible. A synth neo-noir thriller about a man on the edge who dresses up in a modified Swat uniform and beats the crap out of a gang who paralyzed his wife. However the issues with The Demolisher become clear very quickly and what should’ve been a classic becomes a misguided mess with hints of greatness barely managing to break through the muddled story and characters. Attempting to carry the torch of the style commonly found in the likes of Nicolas Refn or Michael Mann, The Demolisher offers neon glows and dark synth a plenty but lacks the heart that make those films great.
The Demolisher follows Bruce an ordinary repairman who is tormented by the sense of responsibility he holds for his disabled wife (an ex police officer) who barely survived a gang attack. Filled to the brim with emotions Bruce finally breaks and decides to get revenge on those who wronged his wife by heading down the path of vigilantism and taking matters into his own hands. Completely insane he targets his rage towards a young woman named Marie who must do what she can to survive the oncoming death that is headed her way.
As I mentioned the issues with the film are immediately apparent in that the story offers no one to root for, or any hints of why we should root for them. The first half of the movie we follow characters who mope in their depression, either completely silent or void of any sort of emotion. Flashes of brutality usually accompanied by pop tunes are thrown in to give us a sense of danger, or perhaps to let us know that something bigger is looming. Though the second half of the movie picks up slightly, giving us more reason to care for characters it is almost instantaneously taken away by the sheer stupidity of their actions.
The film is directed by Canadian Gabriel Carrer and his influences are most certainly clear. His style is at times great inter-cutting violence with pop songs that can only be compared to Refn, however his reliance on slowing down scenes only serves to disturb the overall pacing of the narrative and feels more like filler then anything else. There is a lot of promise here however and the biggest compliment I can give The Demolisher is that it has its own style and vibe, but style over substance never works.
The acting on the other hand is terrible. I will not put all the blame on the actors however as the script has nothing to offer them in terms of support. Lines feel forced and unrealistic and most of the actors seem pretty deadpan through the entirety of the hour and a half run time even when the action picks up a bit towards the end. The decisions of each character makes it very hard at times to root for them when they do the complete opposite of what a real person would do. This is a key thing that many films fall flat on because characters should usually always feel one step ahead of the viewer and there isn’t any excuse for them not to other then a lazy script.
I do not hate The Demolisher. In fact the main problem I have with it is the amount of what feels like wasted potential. This plot (with a different script) in the hands of a more experienced or capable filmmaker could have made for a classic. With that being said it is in no way a film that director Gabriel Carrer should be ashamed of, because unlike a lot of films these days it has style. It’s a puzzle missing a few important pieces and for that I cannot recommend it and instead I will just continue to play out the better version of the movie I have in my head that didn’t make it to the screen.