Shia LaBeouf plays the eponymous protagonist, who has a miraculous ability of conversing with the dead, moments after they have passed away. This is how he learns of his deceased mother’s wish for him to venture to Bucharest, in Romania, so on a whim he packs up and leaves. However on the plane, the man sitting next to him dies in his sleep, only to then instruct the traumatised youngster to pass on a message to his daughter, Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood). However upon meeting her, Charlie becomes enamoured and obsessed with the beguiling stranger , before unwittingly becoming caught up in her personal conflict with her violent and savage ex-partner, Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen).
The opening scene in this title is key, as we watch on as a bruised and beaten Charlie, is dangling from a crane over the edge of a high-rise bridge in Bucharest. Instantly we know where this film is heading, adding a foreboding sentiment to proceedings, and one that is perpetuated by the film’s somewhat suggestive title. However from that point onwards this picture heads steadily downhill, as Bond has crafted a picture that feels so far removed from reality. The director is let off the hook in a sense that the feature is fantastical and supernatural at times so there isn’t that need to stay so close to authenticity, but this moves too far in the other direction, as an illusory offering that becomes a struggle to invest in emotionally.
Every character is just so idiosyncratic, but in an immensely contrived, exaggerated way. There is an abundance of big personalities, which is overbearing, particularly as everybody comes across as being rather nasty, as a film that certainly doesn’t do much for the Romanian tourist board. The screenplay does little to help matters either, with a plethora of accidentally hilarious one-liners that Mikkelsen has to try and deliver with a straight-face, in a somehow-sincere fashion. Considering the actor’s exceptional talent, Nigel makes for a ridiculous villain in this instance. I mean, what sort of name is Nigel for a chief antagonist anyway? Also, who actually elbow drops their adversaries nowadays?
Nonetheless, the one shining light is LaBeouf, who once again, following a fine turn in WW2 drama Fury, shows off his acting credentials and raw talent. So we can at least take that away from proceedings, while also now aware of the fact that Bucharest must be the smallest capital city in the world, because all of our characters just can’t stop running in to one another.