About these ads

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

The Limits of Control (2009)


Hiring a guy who doesn’t talk at all to kill somebody, actually seems like a pretty wise business-decision.

A lone man (Isaach de Bankolé) sets out to do a job he has been hired to do. Though it’s not exactly clear what this job is, he knows that the only way to get it done without any screw-ups is to have no sex, drugs, booze or even fun. Yes, pretty much the life of this lone man is to just sit around at a cafe, have two espressos (in separate cups, mind you) and wait around for something to happen. Somehow, it does, but without him or any of us watching at home, knowing. A woman who fantasizes about Hitchock’s movies (Tilda Swinton) comes around; a guy who discusses the meaning of the word “Bohemian” (John Hurt); and a random, Hispanic man (Gael García Bernal) gives him a guitar. It doesn’t make any sense, but apparently it’s supposed to lead us to the one rich, powerful man we’ve been waiting for this whole time (Bill Murray).

Listen, I know I’m not the biggest Jim Jarmusch fan out there. So I’m not going to try and sit here and act as if I am totally and utterly surprised that this movie turned-out to be just one, two-hour-long film about practically nothing. I kid you not, there is literally nothing to hold onto here. And in a way, I sort of get it.

I get that Jarmusch is trying to make the perfect, quintessential “anti-thriller”. For instance, early on in the movie, our hired-killer is told that “everything is subjective”, meaning that just about every decision or choice he makes, is totally up to him. However, I read that as a way of Jarmusch trying to tell us that yes, as boring and repetitious as this movie may be, it is up to us to look further into it and make up our own minds about what he’s trying to do. He’s not going to flat-out tell us, straight-up what message or mood he’s trying to convey.

There Paz de la Huerta goes again with no clothes on!

There that Paz de la Huerta goes again with no clothes on!

Which, as a movie-goer that appreciates a bit more of a thinking-process involved with the entertainment of watching movies, is something I have to respect. It’s very so rare to where I get to watch a film of where everything is practically left open to my interpretation. Not those thousands and thousands of others across the globe that are yelling about it and discussing it all over message boards (if they even have such a thing for Jim Jarmusch movies), but me. Me and myself alone!

However, I will admit, that even on some occasions, a little hand-holding could do me some good and this was one of those instances where I needed more than just hand-holding – I needed a freakin’ grab of the head, letting me know just of where the hell this was going! Seriously.

I mean, for the first 20 minutes of this thing, I stayed interested. I knew it was going to keep on moving with the same downtrodden, slow-as-molasses pace, so I should have just stayed happy with it, but that’s not all that happens. Rather than actually having this movie go on for so long, as slow as it does, we never get any characterization of anybody we are introduced to whatsoever. Heck, I don’t even think we get a single person’s name! Just “person with blonde wig”, or “Mexican dude”. That’s pretty much it and it frustrated the hell out of me after awhile because I never got a single clue as to who these people were that kept on popping in and out, why they mattered and if I needed to know anything about them whatsoever to further enhance the plot.

And mostly, these characters that just randomly show up here and there, are meant to be random and slightly idiosyncratic. I get that was the point and because of that being so, some of the performances are actually pretty entertaining; John Hurt, in particular, as the kind of spirited, energetic guy a movie like this needs to keep viewers awake. However, the point was thrown out the window once one of the characters plays a bit of a bigger part later in the movie, where we’re supposed to have a certain feeling towards them and whatever bad stuff is happening to them. Instead of giving the movie that pleasure of having them feel like they’ve really done a number on me, I had no idea what the hell was going, so I was more puzzled than anything.

Eventually though, that confused feeling turned into just downright anger with this movie. After awhile, I stopped caring about anything, or anybody for that matter. The only scene that actually had me awake by the later-part was when we’re suddenly placed into a dance club where people are making out, dancing, singing, drinking, and having a good time, while the lone man we’re stuck with, just stares on and has a weird, somewhat creepy smirk on his face. The only two reasons why this scene comes to my mind in particular is because it woke me the hell up, and also, because LCD Soundsystem is the band playing in the background during this scene.

Get the Hitchcock thing now?

Get the Hitchcock thing now? Yeah, me neither.

So yeah, anytime James Murphy is in a movie, without actually being in the movie, not only is it made a bit better, but also keeps my eyes open, if only for ten minutes longer.

Sadly though, James Murphy, believe it or not, was not enough to save this movie. Most of the problems with this movie you could chalk up to Jim Jarmusch and his reliance on just being as vague as humanly possible, and I don’t think you’d be at all wrong in doing that. Usually his sense of an offbeat style works so well for him and the characters he’s building, but here, it really seemed to work against him. Didn’t work for him, the movie, his cast or even most of whom saw this movie. But then again, I guess a 44% ain’t all that bad!

WAIT, WHAT?!?!? 44%!??!? FOR THIS HUNK OF CRAP!?!?!

Consensus: Though it’s easy to understand what Jim Jarmusch is trying to do with the Limits of Control‘s relaxed pace, it never builds to anything, except for maybe total confusion as to who everybody is, why they matter and why we’re even watching this two-hour slog in the first place.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

Ek! The pretentiousness!

The pretentiousness! Ek!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJobloComingSoon.net

About these ads

19 responses to “The Limits of Control (2009)

  1. whitdenton98 April 24, 2014 at 4:06 am

    Not a huge Jarmusch fan, although I did like Broken Flowers. I’ll make sure to stay away from this one. Great review Dan!

  2. ninvoid99 April 24, 2014 at 4:11 am

    This is a film that either people loved or hated as I’m in the former. I saw this as a minimalist feature that didn’t play by the rules of what was expected and not afraid in being repetitive. In some respects, it’s a “fuck-you” film to what is often seen in mainstream Hollywood films in their approach to the hitman story as this is the type of film Michelangelo Antonioni would love to make.

  3. Mark Walker April 24, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Haha! Entirely understandable Dan. I, however, happened to really like it. I admired what Jarmusch was trying to do and found it strangely captivating.

  4. Pingback: The Limits of Control (2009) | Tinseltown Times

  5. thomasjford April 24, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Not seen this one, but I’ve heard mixed reviews. Jarmuschs films are certainly love/hate affairs.

  6. Courtney Small April 24, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    This is my least favourite of the Jarmusch films I have seen. The cast is talented enough but the film’s pacing is painfully slow. Which ultimately reveals many of its numerous flaws.

    • CMrok93 April 25, 2014 at 10:08 pm

      Totally. It felt like it could have just ended at any second, and I would have not cared whatsoever. However, it took two-hours to get to that point and I almost died.

  7. Wendell April 24, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    This sounds like a frustrating watch.

  8. Haricharan Pudipeddi April 24, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Is a Jim Jarmusch film so bad? I’m quite surprised. Need to check it out. Nicely written though

  9. cindybruchman April 24, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Okay, I believe you. I will stay far away from this one. Nice writing, however ;)

  10. keith7198 April 24, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    I do enjoy reading reviews of movies that are steaming piles of dung. I don’t like watching them but I sure love hearing other people’s “great” experience with them! ;)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,722 other followers

%d bloggers like this: