Reviewed By Erik Myers:
Director Nacho Vigalondo has crafted a smart but flawed techno-thriller in Open Windows, a film that takes its many twists with a sharp turn but stretches them a little too far.
Elijah Wood plays Nick Chambers, a sad geek blogger who flies into Austin after winning a contest to meet and greet the girl of his dreams, one Jill Goddard played by Sasha Grey. But then he’s contacted by a “producer” who breaks the bad news that Jill has cancelled on Nick, giving him the impetus to play along as instructed when his mysterious contact gives him access to Jill’s phone. It’s just the beginning of the high-flying hack-a-thon that ensues, one that soon spirals out of control and brings in a whole motley of additional characters.
Open Windows initially plays out within the confines of Nick’s laptop screen, one cluttered with the “open windows” in which we the viewer see the scenes of chaos unfurl. It’s a neat invention and certainly makes the film refreshing. The lurking ultra-hacker makes for somewhat of a frightening villain even if it’s only slightly believable. The glimpses we get of his set-up are rather fantastical but one can’t help but think of those Chinese government-endorsed super hackers who attacked the New York Times website.
But that’s just the start of the stretch of credulity required by the film and its many twists, some of which are foreseeable while others throw the viewer off.
The casting is much simpler and consequently holds the movie up. Count this as another successful performance for Elijah Wood, who’s less of a creep here than in, say, Maniac, but just as balmy and pathetic. Sasha Grey actually turns in an acceptable performance as the Hollywood damsel in distress, one who suffers a lengthy gauntlet of pain and punishment by the secret villain who is just menacing enough.
The plot might be a little convoluted and even ridiculous at times, but the pacing is solid and Open Windows never gets boring with plenty of car chases, violence and stripteases to titillate. The film is clever in its implementation of technology and contains a few interesting reveals, but altogether it just resembles a giant jumbled puzzle that you don’t care to put together.
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