Tuesday, 10 May 2011



Sometimes you're in the video shop reading the back of the box and they essentially give the whole game away in the blurb. But occasionally you'll pick one up and they know they've got an absolute corker of a plot twist that they don't include it. They don't even allude cryptically to that sudden gear change: they leave it entirely to you to stumble upon. Personally I'm in favour of that: there's a thrill of discovery rather than trying to second-guess the carefully worded synopsis. If it's a good twist, that is. But when it's an utterly absurd twist which suddenly veers the film into outright silliness, you may find yourself pausing the DVD and shouting "No!" at the screen, the way I did when Brian De Palma's massively flawed Femme Fatale lobbed a metaphorical spanner into the narrative engine. "You can't do that!"

In Ticking Clock there's a serial killer on the loose: he appears out of nowhere, bloodily kills for no immediately apparent reason and vanishes afterwards. By chance - or is it? - his victim is the girlfriend of crime journalist and all-round idiot Cuba Gooding Jr: in the struggle the killer drops his diary, which crucially includes names and dates of his next victims. Does Cuba Gooding Jr take the book to the police? Of course not, though that's the smart thing to do. What he does is try and track down the killer himself, presumably because he might get a book out of it, and because he's an idiot he repeatedly allows circumstance to frame him as the killer. Gradually it emerges the killer, and the victims, have some connection with a young boy currently in a Catholic orphanage...

Almost exactly one hour in, the film reveals that connection, turning a bog-standard DTV serial killer thriller into something else entirely, and it's a clunking gear change that the film can't recover from. I don't want to reveal the specifics of the twist, because it's really all the film has going for it: the lead is an idiot, the photography is dark and glum and it's not even exciting in its kill sequences. The film's labelled with the Fight Factory logo, which aligns it with Wesley Snipes' or Steven Seagal's more recent exercises in bargain-bucket asskicking, which is strange as there's not that much fighting in it. And it's so strange to see a movie of this nature headlined by an Oscar-winning actor as well - exactly what happened to Cuba Gooding Jr's career?


You won't believe it:

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