Given an extreme situation how would you cope? No one really knows until they are there. For Jeremy Reins that time has come. Jeremy (Stephen Dorff) wakes to find himself in a perspex box. He has no recollection of how he has gotten there or why he is trapped. Outside the box is a timer counting down. Quickly we learn that Jeremy is a secret service agent and the people who have him want to know the location of something or someone called roulette. Inside the box is a CB radio and Jeremy soon is in contact with another man locked in a box facing the same timer and the same question being posed to him. It becomes apparent that they are in fact locked inside the trunk of a car or van and when the timer indicates when a significant event will take place. Through talking to his fellow captor and listening to radio reports a major situation unfolds around the US capital. Several car bombs have been exploded and chaos is threatening the entire city. Jeremy has vital information regarding roulette and on must overcome physical and mental torture to keep the information from his captors.
For almost all the of the film we are in the box with Jeremy. No other actors are on-screen with only the occasional voice interacting with Jeremy. So the film’s success or failure is sitting with the central performer and no one else. Stephen Dorff is excellent in this role. As the only physical presence on-screen he really stretches himself and produces an engaging and believable performance. Given the fact that the film is set in a box little bigger than a coffin there are a surprising range of shots. That box is viewed from almost all angles and the views are mixed up enough to keep it fresh. Given that this film was directed by Gabe Torres, a director unknown to me and I suspect many others, he delivers an accomplished and polished film. With a 90 minute running time there is a real danger the the film will run out of ideas. Brake overcomes this with the frantic pace of the drama. The timer is set to count down in small increments. Four or five minutes are the norm. The pace is relentless, driven by Dorff’s performance and the quite brilliant sound design and soundtrack. The viewer is kept interested for the duration of the film and with the speed of happenings, there is little time for anyone to ponder some of the clunkier plot devices. It is only later that you might start to think about some of the plot turns and how Jeremy got there.
I don’t know if it is just me but I worked out very early on where the film was going and how it would end. Without going in to specifics, it was a bit of a disappointment considering the strength and innovation that I had seen up to that point. Apart from that one point Brake was a very enjoyable film with enough to keep you engaged for its run time. Recommended.