Sundance Review: "Weapons" Is Violent, Feels Authentic

by | January 24, 2007 | Comments

Adam Bhala Lough’s "Weapons" has an opening to remember. A teenager sits in a fast food joint eating a hamburger, chewing blithely away in slow motion. He sits facing the camera for minutes until a figure in the background approaches, pulls out a shotgun, and blows off his head mid-lunch — splashing a ketchup-red splatter of blood right onto the camera lens. It’s a harbinger of what’s to come.

Lough’s opening sequence sets up a story of ambiguous morality and desensitization in modern day youth that unfolds in out-of-sequence chapters; we see the aforementioned murder, then immediately flash back days earlier, when college-boy Sean (Mark Webber) comes home to hang out with his pothead pals Jason (Riley Smith) and Chris (Paul Dano).

Sean and his pals smoke weed and shoot the shit in extended takes — nearly unbearable takes, deliberately long and protracted as in real life — and plot to jump a neighborhood kid over some casual slight. They listen to slow, hypnotic rap (all songs by late mixtape artist DJ Screw) and cruise the streets in a station wagon; shot again in slow motion, the result is a hazy, careless aura that evokes the mind-numbness of a drug high. But what about the kid in the restaurant?

That doomed kid is Reggie (Nick Cannon), a black teen in the same town who’s just found out his little sister’s been raped and beaten. He was on his way to a job interview, but the news sends him into a blind rage that only grows stronger as he sets out to exact revenge. We follow Reggie and his pals on a quest through the ghetto to find a gun, which he does after a particularly brutal beating involving a fire extinguisher and a man’s head.

"Weapons" is a film about violence, though actual acts of bloodshed happen only sporadically (though viciously) throughout the film. Lough’s point may well be to send a message about messed up kids in America (parents, watch your children or else) but the film, as many young people can attest to, is an authentic portrait of reality — teens really do have unbelievably easy access to guns, drugs, and sex.

Lough also takes care to obliterate the race card; the two groups of friends, one black and one white, are acquainted but not hostile. They hang out at the same parties. They listen to the same syrupy, sedate rap, speak the same ghetto-pop language, and — most importantly — make the same bad, explosive decisions and enact brutal acts of violence upon others with the same cavalier disregard.

The film is broken into chapters told out-of-order that unfold the twists and motives of multiple characters. One particularly impressive sequence, entitled "I’m Making A Movie," is shot completely by actor Paul Dano on a handheld home video camera as his character Chris circulates through a party. It’s an impressive scene; also remarkable is Dano’s performance throughout the film as a troubled and lonely introvert in desperate need of acceptance.

Tag Cloud

discovery crime ghosts Rocketman Tarantino YouTube Fall TV psycho E3 chucky Sci-Fi Mary Tyler Moore Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Warner Bros. Cartoon Network Watching Series Tomatazos Adult Swim GoT Spring TV YA Comics on TV Disney streaming service miniseries spider-man ratings crossover 45 Logo Pirates TV Land child's play Film The Witch CNN Freeform Amazon Studios Drama Rom-Com BBC America Rock TCM Family Lionsgate adventure IFC Films Epix technology travel slashers police drama kids Toys romance San Diego Comic-Con FOX Marvel SXSW CBS All Access 20th Century Fox Music WarnerMedia Arrowverse President DirecTV Pop cars spanish language Black Mirror movies Britbox casting Syfy Valentine's Day anthology VH1 A&E Mindy Kaling Amazon Prime Video Anna Paquin Summer transformers Best and Worst Acorn TV crime thriller book See It Skip It SDCC dogs Travel Channel Pop TV DC Universe cats spain canceled Women's History Month jamie lee curtis Paramount Network canceled TV shows TCA boxoffice WGN Baby Yoda History TIFF werewolf talk show 007 MSNBC Super Bowl Binge Guide Showtime Nickelodeon CW Seed independent Bravo TBS DGA Winners USA theme song golden globes CMT Election animated war DC Comics medical drama versus docudrama spy thriller Hulu Schedule Tumblr A24 Apple TV+ Lucasfilm Mudbound serial killer Elton John Calendar The Purge cancelled TV series Shondaland television disaster zombie MCU 2016 PBS The Arrangement Classic Film Character Guide FXX sports game of thrones Turner E! VICE renewed TV shows cancelled TV shows USA Network NBC game show Thanksgiving Amazon Prime Hallmark YouTube Red scary movies Holidays best breaking bad Lifetime Christmas movies Mary poppins politics Musical Emmy Nominations Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Rocky Christmas biography Holiday Reality Film Festival comiccon Animation free movies HBO children's TV Stephen King Dark Horse Comics comedies zero dark thirty what to watch festivals sag awards screen actors guild true crime APB OWN romantic comedy The Walking Dead Marvel Studios mutant TLC cartoon Reality Competition AMC indie video Lifetime rotten movies we love science fiction 2018 FX on Hulu Ovation Podcast Trivia binge award winner cancelled television 71st Emmy Awards Vudu Certified Fresh 2015 Quiz Star Wars YouTube Premium strong female leads Avengers Brie Larson Marvel Television Martial Arts aliens Comedy Central dramedy directors Food Network singing competition universal monsters comic Turner Classic Movies Crackle elevated horror TruTV adaptation 2017 based on movie name the review Sundance Teen Pet Sematary crime drama Masterpiece documentary Comic Book Trophy Talk Polls and Games Trailer TCA 2017 dark Heroines harry potter 2019 Endgame Nominations cooking MTV streaming blockbuster Disney Plus Mary Poppins Returns FX RT21 OneApp Pride Month TV Ghostbusters Infographic LGBTQ Year in Review cops doctor who TNT natural history Television Academy Sony Pictures Shudder Paramount Opinion HBO Max green book Star Trek National Geographic 4/20 revenge Box Office mission: impossible latino Apple TV Plus Disney+ Disney Plus Hallmark Christmas movies Walt Disney Pictures joker teaser robots south america historical drama Photos TV renewals dceu cancelled foreign DC streaming service period drama thriller criterion Video Games die hard LGBT Winter TV First Look richard e. Grant 21st Century Fox concert Discovery Channel BBC comics First Reviews political drama cinemax stoner ABC NYCC El Rey Interview justice league Disney Channel Black History Month space hist social media Cannes Grammys IFC GIFs mockumentary unscripted ITV 2020 Action Peacock reviews Fantasy Disney toy story Song of Ice and Fire Horror Extras reboot Creative Arts Emmys vampires sequel composers Country blaxploitation cults Superheroes Mystery TCA Winter 2020 tv talk zombies series diversity Ellie Kemper christmas movies spinoff finale RT History Spectrum Originals Funimation CBS Nat Geo Starz 24 frames Amazon Biopics Marathons Cosplay Sundance TV Superheroe Fox News ABC Family Western Sneak Peek Chernobyl halloween stand-up comedy Captain marvel Set visit a nightmare on elm street Sundance Now Universal screenings ESPN witnail Netflix Christmas movies Kids & Family Hear Us Out Apple Awards Esquire facebook movie New York Comic Con Writers Guild of America BET PaleyFest supernatural psychological thriller sitcom Pixar Tubi Spike Premiere Dates Netflix Oscars dc Columbia Pictures Countdown American Society of Cinematographers parents asian-american batman Awards Tour X-Men The CW SundanceTV quibi Emmys nature Crunchyroll Academy Awards Red Carpet GLAAD dragons anime franchise Musicals Comedy hispanic