"Brake" is another in a recent string of claustrophobic thrillers set entirely in one small confined space. Instead of the "buried alive" aspect, though, the hero of this piece is locked into a transparent box and held in the trunk of a vehicle. And as he tries to figure out just what is going on, it seems that the outside world is alive with terror plots and conspiracies. Just why is this guy locked up? Who is doing it? And what do they need from him? These are the questions that Stephen Dorff wrestles with as he remains the sole character on screen for the entire length of the movie. When the audience is trapped with the film's protagonist in a stagnant space, there is a tendency (if not done correctly) for the picture to get monotonous. "Brake" does a serviceable job of keeping things interesting, but mostly because it adds dangers that are patently ridiculous.
I mean really, who would believe that ANYONE would be carrying around a load of bees?
And the box has the capacity to fill with liquid in the trunk of a car? Where's it coming from?
End of Slight Spoilers
Really, though, I didn't expect too much from "Brake." I just wanted to be entertained. The movie starts with an intriguing premise so I overlooked many of the wild plot developments because I was genuinely interested to see where this journey would take me. While not exactly riveting throughout, it made for a perfectly passable popcorn movie. Dorff seems to be taking on more and more of these direct-to-DVD type roles (although this had a small release, it feels direct-to-DVD) and I'm not sure why. He's actually quite good here as he becomes increasingly unhinged. And he is the absolute center of the piece. Although the movie boasts names such as Tom Berenger and Chyler Leigh, they get but a moment of screen time. No, this is Dorff talking on a CB radio followed by Dorff talking on a cell phone followed by Dorff talking through a tube. I think you get the idea, it's all Dorff!
The principle storyline revolves around a political conspiracy and, never for a minute, did I believe any of it. Still, I'd have rated this 3 (possibly 3 1/2) stars if not for the ending. You think the rest of the movie is silly? Just wait for the twists (there are more than one, that's all I say). Any goodwill I had toward "Brake" flew out the window with these nonsensical revelations. They turn this mildly engaging movie into one of the most frustrating experiences I've had in a while. None of these last minute twists can withstand even the slightest intellectual scrutiny and the definitely put the brakes on my enjoyment of the movie! KGHarris, 7/12.