This year's Italian Film Festival comes with 2 separate Fringe Programmes, the first being the "Gialli" - Thriller series, and the second meant for fans of animation. Best part of all for everyone tightening our belts these days, is that the screenings are absolutely free. Plan 17 played to a full house today at The Arts House Screening Room, and while it was far from perfect, it was still a lot of fun watching it with a very responsive audience.
The premise of Plan 17 is nothing short of intriguing for fans of the thriller genre. We have a bomber who's tasked to enter a building and detonate a briefcase bomb. Why he does so and his motivations aren't immediately clear, and the situation is made all the more complex when 2 seemingly unrelated persons join him in a lift, and finds themselves all stuck when the lift motor got tampered with. Worse, the bomb is already set on a timer, and it's a 90 minute rush to get themselves out.
No, the film didn't spend the bulk of the narrative confined in that tiny space and having three persons talk crap while waiting for the rescue team. At this stage, the non-linear narrative kicks in to provide some spatial allowance to break out of the four walls, and had attempted to tell the audience more about each individual's background, and how they all are actually connected to one another through 6 (or less) degrees of separation. There's Meroni (Giuseppe Soleri) who's the meek working class salaryman who's taken advantaged of constantly, and the office slut in Violetta (Elisabetta Rocchetti).
The bulk of the film, and its chief anti-hero, is Marco Mancini (Giampaolo Morelli), the bomber who made a pact with someone to retrieve some documents, but finding himself stuck in a time-crisis. There's an enormous back story on his involvement in a crime family, a bank robbery gone awry, and double-crossings from jealous rivals, which the ending of the film provided just that little twist to it all to try and justify some cold-blooded execution. At some point you would want to yell out "enough!" to the filmmaker for having to rewind certain scenes just to point out to you explicitly how things gelled together.
It's hardly a perfect film though, if one is expecting a very tight paced thriller. Plot loopholes are abound, and some situations may be a tad absurd, drawing unintentional laughter, and dialogue that's cringeworthy as well. Technically this looked like it was shot on video and lacked some cinematic quality to it, though there's a highly infectious theme/trance music that played just about at every important scene or revelation. Sad to say though the last third of the film became highly predictable and decided to become an action movie, with a weak villain revealed who enjoys that standard-villain-soliloquy delivery all over again.
Plan 17 may not be the wonderful introduction to Italian Gialli for me, but my interest is piqued for the remaining offerings over the next two days.