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The Daily Wildcat

 

    A ridiculous premise both helps and hurts Netflix original film “Special Correspondents”

    Still+from+Special+Correspondants+released+to+Netflix+on+April+22.
    Netflix
    Still from Special Correspondants released to Netflix on April 22.

    Streaming giant Netflix continues to dominate the entertainment market, starting with television and now moving to film, giving Hollywood a run for its money. Yes, Netflix has begun releasing exclusive films, such as “Beasts Of No Nation” in 2015, and the site released a new film Friday titled “Special Correspondents.”

    The film stars Eric Bana and Ricky Gervais (who also directed the film) as struggling radio employees. Bana plays Frank Bonneville, a dashing radio reporter whose dedication to his work sometimes leads him to break the law, putting him in hot water with the bigwigs at work. Gervais plays Ian Finch, a nerdy, video-game-obsessed radio technician.

    After news of a war in Ecuador breaks out, Bonneville and Finch receive a new assignment — cover the peril. Bonneville considers this his big break and a chance to get back on the radio station’s good side — that is, until Finch accidentally throws away their plane tickets and passports, leaving the two stranded in New York.

    Afraid of the embarrassment that would come with confessing his stupidity, Finch comes up with the next best thing — hiding in a building across the street from the radio station and broadcast fake news reports from Ecuador (an obviously brilliant plot with no possible repercussions).

    Thus begin the escapades of the film. The film heavily relies on satire, attempting to make a point about media, warfare and humanity all at the same time. It never quite achieves this endeavor though, because the whole plot becomes fairly unbelievable.

    Bana’s sub-par-at-best acting does not do the film any favors. Although watchable, he fails to add much to the film. Gervais, on the other hand, gives the best performance here as the bumbling, idiotic Finch, stealing many of his scenes with the same dry humor highlighted in his previous work. The film also stars Vera Farmiga as Finch’s wife, who attempts to profit off her husband after it is believed the duo was kidnapped in Ecuador.

    Although the satire mostly fails in this film, Gervais’s performance and the (mostly) clever plot make up for it. As the radio station and the country become invested in the plight of these two idiots, anyone watching the film cannot help but laugh as Finch and Bonneville try their best to keep up with this facade. It starts off slow and predictable. While the film never achieves great heights, it does get better once the action starts, making it still worth sticking through the 101-minute running time.

    One interesting scene occurs when our two heroes actually travel to Ecuador and Finch ends up shooting his way out of a bandit camp while wounding several Ecuadorian bandits in the process. While awkward and certainly out of place, everything about this scene becomes so ridiculous that it is impossible not to laugh.

    Gervais has definitely had better projects in his past, such as the films “Ghost Town” and “The Invention of Lying,” as well as the British version of the popular sitcom “The Office.” Although he has not created a bad film by any means with “Special Correspondents,” it still will not further Gervais’s career, although it will probably please his die-hard fans (if they actually exist). While it appears the film does not want viewers to take it seriously, it still tries to have them take it more seriously than it should. Although the film features many flat, cliche and uninteresting characters, it still finds ways to make up for that.

    While it definitely does not achieve what it wants to, the movie will still entertain viewers and make them laugh. Don’t put it on the top of your list, but when you have the time, remember to click play on “Special Correspondents.”

    C+


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