If looking at your Apps for the latest depressing Covid-19 news is getting you down, there is definitely a change of pace available.
Mick LaSalle, the San Francisco Chronicle long time movie critic, can’t go to the traditional cinema. Like the rest of us he is checking out innovative means of watching the latest movies in the palm of your hand.
San Francisco Chronicle 4.23.2020
“Most Dangerous Game” is a feature film that has been rolling out in daily installments on Quibi. As of Thursday, April 23, all installments of the film have been fully released, and right now it’s the best movie out there — even though it can’t quite be experienced as a movie and isn’t exactly “out there” in the usual sense.
For those just hearing about Quibi, it’s a new entertainment streaming service made for your mobile phone. No TV, no computer, just the phone. It contains a wealth of content — documentaries, news shows and even feature films — all presented in bites of less than 10 minutes. So, I watched all 15 installments of “Most Dangerous Game” on an iPhone, and I can’t say that the medium interfered with the experience.
“Most Dangerous Game” is probably the most enjoyable movie ever to star Liam Hemsworth, and if that doesn’t sound impressive enough, it also provides Christoph Waltz with his most genial yet menacing showcase since 2014’s “Big Eyes.” It is simply a pleasure to hear Waltz talk here. Particularly enjoyable is the way Waltz pronounces the words “hunt,” “hunting” and “hunted,” overemphasizing the “t” with an air of precision and delicacy, as he makes the most outrageous propositions imaginable.
Hemsworth plays Dodge, who, in the movie’s first scene, comes to Miles (Waltz) in desperation. Dodge is a struggling entrepreneur who has recently received a devastating prognosis: He has only a few weeks to live. He needs to support his pregnant wife and his future child, and he has heard that Miles might be a source of help.
Miles won’t lend him money, but he does know a way that Dodge can earn money. In fact, he can earn tens of millions, if he is willing to participate in a “hunt” … as the “hunted.” When Dodge asks if the hunt will be conducted with paintballs, Waltz gets that steady, dead-eyed “Inglourious Basterds” expression on his face: No. Not paintballs. This will be “sport in its purest form — a hunt to kill.”
There have been many movie variations on this concept over the years, but what makes this one different is that the hunt takes place in a city (Detroit) with the aid of modern technology. There are no guns allowed, and every time Dodge lasts another hour, more money is deposited into his bank account. The hunters are presented as a lethal collection of malicious eccentrics, the most memorable of which is played by English actor Chris Webster, as a kind of amalgam of every British stereotype — bloodless, prissy, polite, perverse, impeccably tailored.
Production values are high, from Matthew J. Lloyd’s atmospheric cinematography to Todor Kobakov’s pulsing score. This is a big-scale thriller that just happens to be on the tiniest of screens, and the production’s scale is especially appreciated now. So far, the films that have been released onto streaming services have been kids’ films, art films or somber relationship dramas. “Most Dangerous Game” is a fun, well-made thriller for an adult audience.
Just one bit of advice for Quibi: This movie took almost two weeks to be released, one episode at a time. Nobody wants to watch a movie that way. Release all the installments at once, the way Netflix does, so that people can binge it if they like. It’s hard to maintain one’s interest in a story when it’s just seven or eight minutes a day. Let the audience decide whether they want well-spaced portions or just want to gobble all of it up in one sitting.
M“Most Dangerous Game”: Action thriller. Starring Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz. Directed by Phil Abraham. (Unrated. 105 minutes. Available now on Quibi.)