I’m after a pallet cleanser, an amuse bouche some might say, to purify my mind after watching the car wreck of a film, Texas Killing Fields. It’s going to take a real corker of a crime thriller like Se7en or Silence of the Lambs to wash away the bitter taste this film has left. Directed by Ami Canaan Mann and starring Sam Worthington, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chloe Moretz and Jessica Chastain, this silly, inexplicable, confusing mess of a film follows three police officers as they try and unravel a series of murders taking place outside Texas City in the ‘Texas Killing Fields’. What ensues is puzzling at best and completely ridiculous at its worst.
I had high hopes for this film going into it. The cast was solid, especially Jessica Chastain, who is one of my favourite working actresses, the premise was intriguing, and the film had the potential to be creepy, intellectual and dramatic. However, what transpired was the antithesis of what the film should, and could, have been. The plot was impossible to follow from the outset, and what was intended to be poignant and hold dramatic gravitas was confusing and fell instantly flat. Characters’ emotions were ramped up to a hundred at all times but instead of resulting in meaty and emotionally engaging performances it had the effect of alienating the audience from any sense of realism. Without context, a solid narrative and an explanation of character motivation, this came off as trite melodrama to which was impossible relate. It almost felt like crucial scenes had been cut or that it was the finale to a TV show where the audience needed prior knowledge to have a clue what was going on. That’s not to say there were no redeeming qualities to the film. Credit where credit is due; the Texas Killing Fields had a glossy sheen and was visually executed well enough to hold its own against its big budget counterparts. The problem with this film was with the plot, dialogue and lack of believable characterisation.
Texas Killing Fields is a real stinker. Too much melodrama, nothing new or original, Sam Worthington sounds like Batman the entire time and the plot will leave you confused, angry and just plain disappointed. Danny Boyle was originally lined up to make this film but pulled out stating that the film was ‘too dark’. It seems his vision may have packed the punch that this film could have only hoped to achieve.