Visually impressive but narratively jumbled and ultimately pointless, Alex Ferrari’s short film “Broken” is quite a feat considering it’s purported $8,000 production budget. The first thing that strikes you about the short is how sophisticated and impressive its opening credits are. The movie proper retains much of the visual feel of the credits, going for grim but orderly, with brief spurts of CGI to break the monotony of the seemingly endless monologue by the lead villain, a guy who wears a red vest, and will now and forever be known as Red Vest Guy.
“Broken” opens with a young woman name Bonnie (Samantha Jane Polay) waking up from a violent dream, only to be abducted from her house by Red Vest Guy and taken to what looks like the basement of an abandoned building. There, Bonnie is introduced to Red Vest Guy’s ability to talk endlessly without ever progressing the film’s plot forward, while we see men who, one assumes, are “badasses” standing about. Later, a guy in commando gear shows up, kills all the badasses in less than a minute (I guess they weren’t such badasses after all), but proves to be just lacking in coming clean with the plot.
If it isn’t obvious by now, I have absolutely no idea what “Broken” is about. I had no clue as the film played, and no clue now, as I write this review. What does that mean? Perhaps writers Alex Ferrari and Jorge Rodriguez have failed to get whatever ideas they were going for through to the audience. Perhaps not. If the entire point of the short was to confuse and confound, then they’ve certainly succeeded with flying colors. Although I suspect the answer might be simpler than that: “Broken”, as a film, was never meant to be coherent, but was instead a demo reel for the filmmakers.
And as a demo reel, “Broken” certainly impresses, if just from a visual standpoint. Ferrari’s direction is actually quite good, especially considering he’s forced to paint the same scene for 15 whole minutes while Red Vest Guy indulges in incessantly tedious monologue about various topics (think Quentin Tarantino, only less interesting, and extremely pointless). Further convincing me that “Broken” is more demo reel than movie is the presence of superfluous CGI spread throughout the film. It’s only during the movie’s one gun battle that the CGI ever justifies itself.
“Broken” has the look down, but alas, that’s about it. Cinematographer Angel Barroeta does spectacularly with the resources at hand, and it would be interesting to see what he can do with a decent budget on a feature film. Ferrari seems to have talent as well, although I can’t be sure how much, as he doesn’t really do a whole lot with the film’s two or three scenes. Although the gun battle is exciting, and the choreography is quite good, it’s much too short, and Red Vest Guy and company proves to be terribly easy prey, especially considering their introduction.
Part David Fincher, part “The Matrix”, and unfortunately too much Quentin Tarantino, “Broken” is nonsensical if you approach it as a standalone movie; as a demo reel for the visual effects guys and the cinematographer, it’s impressive. If “Broken” is meant to be the precursor to a feature film version, I hope Rodriguez and Ferrari have more to work with, script-wise, than what’s here.
Alex Ferrari (director) / Alex Ferrari, Jorge F. Rodriguez (screenplay)
CAST: Samantha Jane Polay …. Bonnie
Paul Gordon …. Duncan
Amber Crawford …. Marquez