Wednesday, 16 May 2012



It's one of those pleasantly odd coincidences that I've finally managed to see this frankly bone-headed revenge thriller while the Leveson Enquiry constantly highlights the despicable moral emptiness of the tabloid press, and at a time when Mel "Sugar Tits" Gibson is once again the subject of the Twitter hive mind's fury because of his unhinged bonkersness. (Personally I think he should shut up, calm down, put the booze away and make some decent movies instead of behaving like a loudmouthed dick.) Mel's actually one of the film's producers and has a nicely self-aware one-shot cameo as an anger management patient.

Paparazzi is a hopelessly simplistic exploitation movie which couldn't be any less subtle if its villains were all dressed as Nazis and setting fire to puppies. The basic idea is that in their quest for paparazzi photographs, a quartet of despicable tabloid magazine photographers (led by Tom Sizemore at his sleaziest) cause a car smash that hospitalises the wife and child of Hollywood action star Cole Hauser; can he somehow take these parasitical bastards down as they systematically take his life apart?

If the ongoing enquiries into media ethics have demonstrated anything, it's that tabloid newspapers are loathsome and repulsive and the methods they employ to produce their daily flood of worthless diarrhoea are utterly reprehensible. (And by the way: if you fund these racist, sexist, faithist, homophobic and hypocritical publications, you're fine with that.) Yet no matter how low into the moral sewers the Sun, Mail etc will happily dive, they are but hopeless amateurs set against the cackling villains in Paparazzi: people whose whole objectives are to break up marriages, destroy lives and trash careers. And that's not nearly vile enough: Sizemore's character doesn't just wreck lives, he's a rapist as well. Another has a firearms conviction. Against such evil, one ends up on Cole Hauser's side not because he's the hero (he's a pretty bland and uninteresting character) but because everyone else is so horrible.

Minor pleasures include the always reliable Dennis Farina as the sympathetic cop on the case, walkons from Matthew McConaughey and Vince Vaughn, and the fact that it's fairly short. But it's very stupid, entirely unbelievable (odd that no-one notices one of Hollywood's top new stars going around wreaking revenge when the whole point of the movie is that he's under constant pap surveillance) and it ends up as a ridiculously one-sided thriller with very little on its mind except pandering to the basest desire for bloody revenge against hateful scum: it's less subtle than a Death Wish sequel in that regard.


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