The uncovering of Fateful Findings as a bad movie gem has not gone to Neil Breen’s head. He’s just continuing his work as a filmmaker, with his latest movie, Pass Thru, doing the rounds in US cinemas. I live in Australia, so I’ll have to wait for the DVD/VOD release (or, fingers crossed, an Australian tour). But for now, let’s look at Breen’s cinematic debut, Double Down.
USA, 2005, Neil Breen
Breen is Aaron Brand, a man who, according to the gigantic opening info dump, is basically the world’s most important person. He’s the number one covert agent who fights against the world’s biggest threat, biological and chemical weapons. Though he also uses those weapons, so perhaps he is also a terrorist. He says a lot and it all kind of meshes together. He can also hack into anything in the world by using several laptops at once, the first of many similarities with Fateful Findings.
Over the thirteen-minute opening narration (seriously, I counted), Aaron goes on at length about how great he is, how no-one dares kill him, and how he is empty without his dead fiance. Like in Fateful Findings, Breen’s lover is his childhood sweetheart, who has seemed to age so much better that he has. When the opening exposition ends, we are treated to a flashback showing the fiance’s death.
In this scene, which you really should watch, shows the lovers, naked bar the lady’s flesh coloured g-string, and back turned to the camera, in a romantic moment (PG sexiness, another Breen signature). Aaron proposes to his girl (where did he keep the ring?) and then a sniper immediately shoots her, missing his intended target of the world’s most amazing hacker man. Then she lies face down in the pool, and Breen joins her, because we need to see them buns, even in the film’s emotional crux. And a glimpse of sack, too.
The whole film follows the pattern of these two opening sections. There’s sluggish stretches of exposition, told using Breen’s distinct narration, between the good bits. It is distinct in that it combines vague sounding conspiracies, braggadocio and flat line delivery. Oh, and stock footage. Oh, the stock footage. I’m as much of a fan of stock images and the public domain as anyone (for proof, see my book that I’m not shamelessly plugging at all), but Double Down abuses them in a way that would make Ed Wood proud, only it’s not funny like Wood’s repetitive use of stock.
The good scenes match anything from Fateful Findings, but they are more sparse in this film. Also sparse are the plot details. Aaron has to shut down the Las Vegas strip because, um, terrorists? Shady government types? I’m sure it’s there somewhere, but between the over-abundant narration, constant scenes with the dead fiance, and other odd scenes, I was confused. The only person I saw doing anything particularly bad was Aaron. I thought he might be the bad guy, but then there was a scene in which Aaron lists every one of the dozen or so medals he’s earned.
As the film progresses, it gets nuttier. A highlight was when Aaron is tasked with poisoning someone for the good of humanity, or whatever (clear motives are for other films), and picks up the wrong hungover newlyweds in his car. After poisoning the wrong man, Aaron pretends he is in fact her new husband. When he gets a call telling him of the mix-up, Aaron announces ‘the marriage is over’ and storms out of the car.
Breen also performs a Nic Cage style freak out, exclaiming ‘I can’t go on with this. I can’t go on with this! I’m an American! I’m an American, I love this country! My country.’ I’m actually sure what reason he does this, be I enjoyed it all the same.
Just in case you haven’t noticed, this film confounded me. Plot points were brought up then dropped throughout the movie and by the film’s conclusion, nothing was resolved. In a scene that will please fans of The Room, Aaron visits a family, who tells him that their daughter has a brain tumour. Aaron holds his magic rock (another thing from Fateful Findings) and places his hand on the daughter’s head. Then the narration states that Aaron may be able to cure that cancer. This is the first and last we see of this family.
The film’s climax is like a lesser version of Fateful Findings end. Then again most films’ endings pale in comparison to that film’s bananas finale. There’s important men from every important place, which Aaron calls simultaneously on three phones at one point, who are never filmed together and are behind shitty green screens. Together, they are trying to prevent a national catastrophe. And then, well, let’s have a look at my panicked notes. If they were hand-written, they would be messy and written so fast they cramped my hand.
Why are all the leaders filmed separately? Why are they so calm?
Why are the people doing the bad things never shown?
Why are we back onto Breen’s dead fiance again?
He’s smashing his laptops with a rock, then he’s carrying his fiance. What about the national emergency?
Did he just leave Las Vegas while it’s in peril so he could mope about his fiance? Maybe he should’ve just made a sappy romance film instead.
Nothing got resolved. I am confused. Fateful Findings was much better.
And now you have seen part of my creative process, and what I think of Double Down. It’s has its moments of unintentional, humorous absurdity, but has too many flat spots to recommend anyone other than big Fateful Findings fans. For everyone else, just enjoy the trailer, then look elsewhere for your bad movie needs.
Neil Breen was previously selling Double Down on fatefulfindings.biz, but he’s all out at the moment. The YouTubes is your best bet right now. Or you can buy Fateful Findings instead.