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Chained (2012)

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Chained (2012) – Bob, a cab-driving serial killer who stalks his prey on the city streets alongside his reluctant protégé Tim, who must make a life or death choice between following in Bob’s footsteps or breaking free from his captor.

Directed by Jennifer Lynch (daughter of legendary director David), Chained stars Vincent D’Onofrio as a taxi-driving serial killer named Bob, who early on in the film kidnaps a mother (Julia Ormond) and her young son Tim (Evan Bird). Bob decides to keep the boy and dispose of the mother. Over the years Bob continues his killings while Tim, now older (played by Eamon Farren), is groomed to become his protégé  Bob decides to call him Rabbit, and uses him as his unwilling domestic slave.

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Bob leaves in the morning, and returns in the evening, sometimes with a victim. But Rabbit is never able to leave the house, so neither can we as the viewer. We just wait for Bob to return.

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It’s not all bad news for Rabbit though. Over time, he is granted the right to study physiology along with various other freedoms, such as no longer being chained to the house. And when Bob brings home a young woman for Rabbit, he’s expected to follow in his ‘father’s’ footsteps. But will he go through with it or has he secretly been plotting another attempt at escape? When he tries to escape for the first time, Bob catches him and chains him up like a dog.

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Chained is never a gorefest, and by keeping the murders largely off-screen for the most part this is very effective, as the horrific sounds ensure that the audience imagines the worst anyway. But it is so dark in its tone and themes that it received the commercially restrictive NC-17 rating in the US. I believe cuts were made so it could see some kind of release, and here in the UK it was rated as an 18.

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Opting to move away from the more torture-porn (I still despise that termstyle of movie and focusing on the relationship between Bob and Rabbit is a very smart move from Lynch. Vincent D’Onofrio creates a character who appears to care for the boy, yet is capable of violence towards him at a moment’s notice. He delivers a powerful and chilling performance that really gets under your skin, not least because he doesn’t portray Bob as an outright monster. Eamon Farren as Rabbit just about matches D’Onofrio in the acting stakes, and puts in an equally terrific performance. We spend most of the film watching these two, and it’s success is due to how good they both are. It was devastating to watch Evan Bird in the beginning as the young boy clueless and crying, and I must mention his brilliant performance.

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The nature vs nurture themes of the script are both intriguing and provocative and Lynch pulls off a handful of inspired but devastating moments, such as the brutal cut that sweeps away Rabbit’s entire childhood in one fell swoop (when Farren takes over from Bird). Chained asks some interesting questions about abuse and the effects of it on children. For instance, can a child be moulded into a monster and if not, what is it that prevents said child from taking those steps into darkness. I always enjoy something that is thought-provoking and a little different. Chained certainly fits that bill.

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As IMDB states in the trivia section, some viewers complained that the ending of the film felt rushed and tagged on. Jennifer Lynch said that the ending made more sense in the script, but due to time and budget constraints, it wasn’t able to be executed properly. This is what costs the film a higher score from me. I liked the fact they tried to throw in a curve ball and catch the audience off guard, but it just felt out of place and unnecessary. It doesn’t ruin anything as such, it just didn’t add to my experience and I would have preferred it to end about 15 minutes earlier. That said, Chained is an excellent watch, and whilst I have only seen one of Lynch’s previous efforts (Surveillance), I now want to check out her earlier films and can’t wait to see what she does next.

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56 Comments

  1. Wordschat

     /  March 28, 2013

    Hmm new graphic scoring too. I’m on the fence on this. D’onfrio creeps me put in everything in a bad way. As in Law & Order Criminal Intent he just comes off to much the snarmy arrogant know it all with a deeper gloom in him. Perhaps he is too good and its those qualities that bug me. The movie could be taxing.

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    • Glad you noticed! Still tweaking it. Or my graphics guy is I should say 😉

      I loved him in Full Metal Jacket, not seen him in much else but he is excellent here.

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  2. I’m nuts about this movie. The concept is fascinating, and as in THE CELL (2000), Vincent D. is an awesome character.

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    • Glad you liked it, and for me it’s his 2nd best performance after full metal jacket of course! He was great in the cell though 🙂

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  3. I watched this myself a couple of weeks ago and didn’t even bother to write anything about it. It was okay to begin with an the premise was very intriguing but it got a bit boring for me and I found the ending a bit ridiculous. I wanted to like this more than i did as i was a fan of Lynch’s previous film Surviellance. This unfortunately didnt work as well for me. Good review, though, man.

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    • The ending was a little frustrating, but surprised you didn’t rate it overall. We keep disagreeing at the moment! All good fun. Cheers buddy 🙂

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    • GaryLee828

       /  March 29, 2013

      I share Mark’s exact sentiments about the film; interesting concept, but just wasn’t nearly as interesting as it could have been. It’s not terrible, or anything; I never considered turning it off, and I wanted to finish it, etc. but it just wasn’t memorable. It’s one of those films that I watch and then never think about again. I don’t even think I’ve ever discussed the movie with anyone before. I don’t have anything to say about it. Nothing good. Nothing bad. That’s hard for me b/c I generally have an opinion about every movie I watch. lol. Even movies I hate like “Twilight” and “GI Joe” I have a ton to say b/c there’s so much to rip apart, but this film wasn’t bad like that, therefore to me there was nothing to discuss.

      But anyway, Mark & Tyson, you guys need to watch “The Hidden Face”. I have been pushing this movie since January 15th and hardly any of my movie buffs have watched. I want to get some opinions on this movie that I thought was genius! 🙂

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      • Weird – obviously I found quite a bit I liked that I could talk about! I thought it was very thought provoking. Like every film though, they work for some and not others 🙂

        I am trying to track down this Hidden Face you keep banging on about 🙂

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  4. I haven’t heard of this before, but it sounds interesting. I’m a fan of David Lynch, though I haven’t seen any of Jennifer’s work, and I like Vincent D’Onofrio. Nice review.

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  5. This looks pretty good Tyson, is it on Netflix do you know?

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  6. theipc

     /  March 28, 2013

    Nice!

    I also like your new rating system!

    Good show, Chappy!

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  7. Interesting read buddy, good work 🙂

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  8. Okay, I’m definitely adding this to my list – it seems really familiar but I think there was another film with a similar theme of a man raising a boy as his protege. I saw Boxing Helena a loooonnnnngggg time ago and it was just…horrible, so horrible but I think that was Lynch’s first ever film. It sounds like she’s improved a lot because I’m really loving everything you said here – great review, Ty!!

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    • Malevolence maybe your thinking of? Haven’t seem that but I know it’s similar in time. (or Bereavement, both films one is sequel)

      I’ve bought Boxing Helena today just to see what it’s like. Hope I like it more than you!

      Thanks Misty, much appreciated 🙂

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  9. D’Onofrio does creepy very well. In fact, he’s creepy even when he’s not trying to be creepy. I’m sure he’s perfect for this.

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  10. Nice, I like the new scoring system.

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  11. I remember seeing the trailer for this one and thinking “How fucked up is that?” Seems like a lot, but in a good way. I just might check this out, I just saw Vincent in Full Metal Jacket for the first time after all

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    • Yeah I thought it would be a lot worse than it was, violence wise. He is insanely good in Full Metal Jacket, incredible film 🙂

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  12. Nice review! Loving the new score card!

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  13. Sounds like a harrowing experience but it is one I must put myself through. I’m particularly interested in seeing how the direction of Jennifer Lynch plays out. Just lowering my expectations a bit considering people’s reaction to the ending might help the film a little.

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    • I liked it, a lot more than most people it seems. Lynch is definitely intriguing, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her work.

      The ending…….yeah, I mean I didn’t hate it, but when the director admits it was rushed, it doesn’t bode well. Let me know if you see it 🙂

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  14. The dedication you give to your blog, the movie selection you review & the overall content are marvelous, Carter. You’re unstoppable!

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    • My new favorite comment!!! Thank you for the kind words, much appreciated Marc. I’m just grateful anyone takes the time to pay me a visit here 🙂

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  15. I have this here to watch, I knew you reviewed it sometime, purposely took a look from your A-Z’s. been hanging on it a while now so I may well watch it very soon, nice one Tyson.

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