By Brett Mullins
Directed by Tim Hunter
Ray Liotta (Identity, Hannibal) plays a convicted criminal who escapes the fate of execution by opting to partake in a trial study of a behavior modification drug with a major pharmaceutical company. His doctor, portrayed by Willem Dafoe (Antichrist), closely oversees the transformation of a sociopathic criminal to an empathetic ‘average Joe.’
The main attraction of the film is Ray Liotta’s performance which beautifully illustrates his range as an actor. He convincingly portrays both a thug with face tattoos and a sensitive ‘nice guy’ in a manner that never ventures over the top. Comparatively, Dafoe’s character is rather subpar, which is to say that it is still quite above average in general. Michelle Rodriguez, who is outshined, delivers an excellent supporting performance as Liotta’s love interest.
While Control excels with regard to acting, the same cannot be said for many of the other elements of the film, especially the story and the somewhat sloppy editing. The film did not quite have enough content to match it’s runtime. It often felt as though the characters were simply moseying around without much to do. Once the action begins, however, the cuts between scenes are occasionally off and lead to a slight discontinuity in movement and dialogue. One such instance, in the final act, is rather obvious and confusing.
Liotta, Dafoe, and Rodriguez keep this film afloat by establishing and maintaining tension which greatly contributes to the dreadful/hopeful tone of the film. It suffices to say that the film owes quite a lot to these three.