Monday, July 6, 2009

Day 154: The Dead Zone (1983) - Rank 4/5


How can you go wrong with Christopher Walken, I ask you? Well, "Gigli" perhaps. But Walken certainly doesn't fail to entertain in the adaptation of a Stephen king novel that tells the story of a man gifted with second sight. Johnny Smith (Walken) acquires this miraculous talent after awaking from a five-year coma that was brought on by a car wreck. He then must decide whether to use this gift to help others or to dismiss it as a curse.

While the film was helmed by David Cronenberg, it seems absent of much of the atmosphere of dread that surrounds his films, or the theme of "the flesh" that is predominant in many of his productions (especially the two movies that bookmark "The Dead Zone" - "Videodrome" and "The Fly"). One wonders if this was an attempt on Cronenberg's part to make a film that had a wider appeal and a more straightforward story, or it was for other reasons all together. Nevertheless, "The Dead Zone" works well as a thriller, though the script makes it seem as if the entire film is actually three short episodes loosely tied together.

The first act would be the origin story behind Walken and his discovery of his gift. During the second act, the film changes gears and becomes a serial killer flick and Smith must use his power to find the killer. The third and final act becomes a political thriller, with Smith bent on stopping a man he prophesizes to spark nuclear war. Each time the story switches, new characters are left behind and new ones introduces, giving the overall flow of the film an uneven feel. Still, the film is guilty fun thanks to Walken, so the weak transitions don't diminish the viewing experience too badly.

Watch the Trailer

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