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The Factory (2012)

Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 2/19/2013

All Ratings out of
Audio: 1/2
Extras: No extras

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/17/2013

The Factory available on DVD and for download 2/19!

If you grew up in the 80s and you watched movies, then you liked John Cusack. It was just one of those things which could not be helped. With appearances in films like Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer, Stand by Me, and Say Anything... (which I think is vastly overrated, but I like Cusack's performance) Cusack created a persona of a nice, laidback guy who was someone who you'd want to be your buddy. As his career progressed, Cusack tackled different kinds of roles, and he became less visible as time went on, but he continued to work on a regular basis. However, it seems that his recent roles have been in some questionable films. The Raven was a stinker, and now he's shown up in The Factory. Is the fact that this went direct to DVD a bad sign?

The Factory is set during the snowy winter in Buffalo, New York. For several years, police detective Mike Fletcher (John Cusack) has been working on multiple cases in which prostitutes simply vanished from the streets. With the help of his partner, Kelsey Walker (Jennifer Carpenter), Mike has devoted a lot of time to this. This has somewhat alienated him from his wife, Shelley (Sonya Walger), his daughter, Abby (Mae Whitman), and his son, Jed (Vincent Messina). We learn that the culprit behind the disappearances, Gary Gemeaux (Dallas Roberts), has struck once again and that he keeps some of his victims locked in his basement. Mike continues to chase leads, including assaulting one suspect, and it looks as if the trail has gone cold. But, when another kidnapping takes place, Mike begins to gather enough clues to get on Gary's trail.

We all have genres and sub-genres which we liked and those which we wish would go away. But, the fact that this disliked genres don't go away means that someone is watching those movies and those movies are making money somehow. One such group of movies is the "women in chains/women in captivity" sub-genre of psychological thrillers. I've never liked this kind of movie and I feel that the genre should have been shut down after The Silence of the Lambs, as it clearly wasn't going to get any better than that. But, we continue to get these movies and with the rise of the Saw-lead "torture porn" movement, these movies have simply become more mean-spirited. Falling into this trap (literally) was just one of many mistakes made by The Factory.

The film's lack of an original sub-genre could be excused if anything else interesting was going on. But, aside from the fact that Gary strikes when it's snowy out, Co-Writer/Director Morgan O'Neill, along with Co-Writer Paul Leyden (both of whom started out as actors), can't come up with many novel concepts for the screenplay. The fact that Mike's work takes him away from his family is cliched. The fact that he lands in hot water with his superiors due to his behavior -- and thus must tackle the case in a new way -- is something which we've seen before.

And then we have the big plot twist which is revealed in the third act. When I first learned of The Factory, I visited IMDB.com to read about it and one of the first comments was "Huge plot twist that you will not see coming...unless you're a genius!". Well, I guess that I should call MENSA, because I figured it out in the first few minutes, and I never guess these things. However, when a movie shoves an odd fact about a character in your face over and over, you begin to wonder why this is happening and then it's a simple leap to the twist. However, once this twist is revealed, we realize that we still don't know exactly what is going on and the coda raises more questions than it answers, specifically, "Why does this person think that they are going to get away with this crime?" Direct-to-DVD titles like this are usually whittled down to about 80 minutes, but The Factory runs for nearly two hours and wears out its welcome long before that.

John Cusack's performance in The Factory is decidedly mediocre. This sort of dark role is more-and-more becoming the norm for him, but he still doesn't look comfortable doing it. That boyish charm is still under there somewhere, but he gets no chance to use it here, as Mike is simply obsessed and depressed. Jennifer Carpenter is simply playing a nicer, softer version of her role from Dexter (with much less profanity) and doesn't bring anything very interesting to her performance. In fact the only truly interesting thing happening here is that Dallas Roberts looks like his must be related to John Ritter in some way. By the end of the movie, we learn why the film is entitled The Factory, but very early on we realize that it looks like something which came off of an assembly line.

The Factory opens with a Thanksgiving scene which made me long for my childhood on DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a hint of grain at times and no defects from the source material. This is a very dark film, most of which occurs at night, but only a few scenes could be classified as questionably dark. The few splashes of color look fine. The depth is adequate for a DVD, but the image is a bit soft at times. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a fairly hearty track which delivers solid subwoofer action during the action sequences, most notably the race through the snow. The surround sound channels are also active during these scenes, delivering notable rear speaker action. (But, it's not very detailed.) The stereo effects are fine, and there are a few moments where we can hear sounds coming from the extreme left or right.

The Factory DVD contains no extra features, and no chapters menu for that matter.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.