Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear... Patrol Men (2010)
Patrol Men is one of the most shoddily inept films I've ever seen, almost to the point of not deserving a review. It's a film that seemingly went into production without a focus puller, cinematographer or even a tripod. The film looks like it was shot on the cheapest DV cameras available, and opted to capture sound naturally and without a boom mic - the dialogue is often muffled and unclear; almost inaudible. The image is grainy, often blurred. Characters are shot in extreme close-up for no apparent reason, and the landscape is compacted into an obscured frame. Everything is drab and dulled; the film exists in browns and greys. Where's the colour? Where's the lighting? Shot structure is non-existent as the camera wobbles all over the place and finds peculiar angles to shoot from - a conversation, for example, which is shot on a heightened slant cutting half of the actors bodies out of shot, and drawing no attention to their interactions. It's unprofessional on every level; ugly and amateurish. Frankly, if this can get distributed then so can my student film. It had audible dialogue, focused camerawork, colour, some inventive direction and a script that can be bothered to engage with character and plot. Don't get me wrong, I'm not blowing smoke up my arse. My student film is a piece of crap, but next to Patrol Men it's Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941). If this can get to DVD, I can get to multiplexes...
Patrol Men doesn't warrant a second of your time, so reading about it - while an exponentially more fun experience - shouldn't take up too much of it either. To list the problems in detail I would need an essay the length of which is unprecedented. Patrol Men is a film made by two idiots who saw Dead Man's Shoes (Meadows, 2004), Nineteen Eighty-Four (Radford, 1984) and The Wicker Man (Hardy, 1973) and said "one of those please." It's a shameless knock-off, but with none of the wit, intelligence, perception, insight, excitement or originality of those films. It's just political pseudo-babble, manufactured fear mongering and horror cliché. Oooh, men in masks. Whatever. There's no threat or tangible sense of atmosphere. It's just like two blokes turned up at the seaside with a camera and shot whatever was happening. The filming locations are Dorset and Wiltshire. They should sue, because Patrol Men makes these beautiful places look like dystopian wastelands - unintentionally. The 'actors' seem to be aware of how bad the material is too, and play it for the paycheck, because the performances here are abysmal. They make Troll 2 (Fragasso, 1990) look like an Altman film. It doesn't help that the dialogue is dumb and stilted, but please, let me give you an example:
Walter: You've no respect!
Jess: Don't take it personally, it's just not in my nature.
Walter: Then I hope listening to advice is in your nature.
Jess: I wouldn't count on it.
(note: yes, these people are assholes)
I wouldn't even recommend that you illegally download this movie for free; it's not worth the time or effort. It's not worth the space that would be taken up on your hard drive. It's not worth the oxygen that would be required to tell people to avoid it. It's not worth you reading any further, because this review is over. Patrol Men is an abysmal film. Its laziness, lack of imagination and amateurishness made me literally angry. My student film is better than Patrol Men. I promise you. But unlike Campion & Simpson I'll never have the arrogance or self-delusion to think it's worth your time. You'll never see my student film. I promise you that too. And I pray to the God I don't even believe in that you never, ever have the misfortune of seeing Patrol Men...