Robert Pattinson plays Eric Packer, a 28-year-old billionaire riding across Manhattan in a stretch limo to get a haircut on a difficult day (traffic-wise) for the city. The President (of the US) is in town and there is the possibility of an attempt on his life (the President’s, not Packer’s).
As his car attempts to make its way through crosstown traffic Packer conducts a series of meetings inside the shiny, futuristic, but extremely claustrophobic belly of the limo.
We learn that Packer is married to Elise (Sarah Gadon) but the marriage is in danger. This might have something to do with the fact that Eric likes to copulate with anything female that happens to catch his fancy.
He also sees his doctor in the limo – a doctor who conducts a thorough physical examination of Richie Rich – while the car continues to make its way to the originally-stated destination.
The car is attacked by a mob. People come and go. Packer keeps receiving updates about the developing situation in the city from his Head of Security Torval (Kevin Durand) and he keeps insisting—despite being repeatedly advised against it—that he needs to have his haircut on that very day.
And so it goes.
I’m not sure if it is rebellion, laziness, lack of funds, or a combination of all the above that has prompted the director David Cronenberg (who also adapted the screenplay from a Don DeLillo novel) to limit a large portion of this narrative to a single location – the limo.
His choice. I can live with that. But-
All filmmaking is about selling an illusion. When that illusion is masterfully crafted we buy into whatever hocus-pocus is being sold, but when it becomes clear that most of Packer’s cross-town excursion takes place in a stationary vehicle (with the scenes outside the window being simulated via digital trickery) the whole enterprise takes on the complexion of slow-moving theatre. Uninteresting at best, boring at its worst.
It’s tough to discuss performances in a narrative, which seems designed for stilted, self-conscious delivery. Mr. Pattinson is stiff, and cold. But then so also are Ms Gadon, and walk on players like Samantha Morton and Juliette Binoche.
Final Analysis: This feels like some high-minded thesis exercise rather than a piece of cinematic entertainment.
My Advice: There is absolutely no joy in this film, either in the filmmaking, or in the narrative. I cannot recommend this movie—not unless you want to put yourself in a bad mood.