AN ORDINARY MAN
(director/writer: Brad Silberling; cinematographer: Magdalena Górka; editor: Leo Trombetta; music: Christophe Beck/Chilly Gonzalez; cast: Ben Kingsley (The General), Robert Blythe (Grocer), Hera Hilmar (Tanja), Peter Serofinowicz (Miro); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Rick Dugdale/Ben Kingsley/Brad Silberling; Saban Films; 2017)
“Kingsley gives a hammy performance.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Brad Silberling (“Land of the Lost”/”10 Items or Less”) is writer-director of this sterile war crime drama about the fictional legendary fugitive ethnic cleansing General (Ben Kingsley), from the days of the former Yugoslavia. Kingsley gives a hammy performance, and is in every frame–seemingly enjoying his thunderous performance. The film shows the General is protected by his Serbian supporters, as they hide him in his homeland in various safe houses from the international forces wishing to bring him to justice and the new Serbian government that is threatened with loss of financial aid if he’s not found. While hiding in a drab safe house, the unlikable bad guy bullies the 26-year-old maid, Tanja (Hera Hilmar), to strip for him and forces her to work for him. The imperious General browbeats his prey and she goes along with it because she supposedly sees no other choice (and, as we learn later she’s not a maid but an agent sent by his supporter Milo (Peter Serofinowicz) to keep him from wandering off alone in town). By the third act, we are supposed to see the humanity behind the monster’s stance or at least understand his point of view. The filmmaker questions if we can ever find true justice when punishing such an evil doer. Not much worked for me, since I thought this was a bogus characterization of an evil man (it failed to say anything meaningful about his crimes against humanity) and his domineering relationship with the maid failed to clarify for me what he’s all about. It seemed this was merely an acting exercise to get Kingsley to do continuous rant monologues and strut around posing as the misunderstood military-minded war criminal. In other words, it was a misguided film that had nothing to say to the world about those atrocities that matter and never lets us hear what his victims have to say about his genocidal activities.
REVIEWED ON 4/20/2018 GRADE: C