Arnold Schwarzenegger had his Oscar moment. Y’know,the movie that proves an action hero can really act (sorta like Sly Stallone in Creed.)
Too bad very few people saw it (and probably no one from the Academy.)
Too bad, too, because (in my opinion) the big guy is actually pretty good in this one.
He doesn’t play a homicidal robot (The Terminator), a legendary warrior (Conan the Barbarian), even a gun-totin’ DEA agent (Sabotage) or any of the larger than life heroes he has portrayed in past flicks.
Instead, he is just a farmer and a grieving father. Seem his daughter (Abigail Breslin), the Maggie of the title, has gone to New York and picked up a strange sort of virus which will turn her into something inhuman in 10-15 days.
All Arnie’s character can do is watch and wait while his beloved daughter slowly turns into something straight out of The Walking Dead. Turn Maggie’s “condition” into a metaphor for terminal illness, as some viewers have suggested, and the scenario becomes truly chilling.
I get the feeling this was a deeply personal film for Mr.S. For one thing, he is listed as one of the producers. And, unlike recent films, he has put himself in the hands of an untested young director (Henry Hobson) and screenwriter (John Scott 3). You can see the pain in his eyes as his character watches helplessly while his daughter worsens and the time begins to shorten before he is forced to make, what for a parent, must be an unthinkable decision. The famous (or infamous) Teutonic accent is seldom heard.
Sure, if you’re a cynic, you could chuckle as Ah-nuld goes heavily dramatic on you. Or you can immerse yourself in the film and feel a father’s pain and wonder how he will resolve his dilemma. Will he end his daughter’s life or will he succumb to the inevitable?
It is not hard to see why this film did not play well in the multiplex. That sort of suspense is way more subtle – and probably alienating to action fans accustomed to the thrill-a-minute editing common to the genre.
However, director Hobson has decided (perhaps, stubbornly) to unfurl the story at his own (some might say, glacial) pace. The result, to this viewer, is a bleak, atmospheric human drama with no easy answers.
Credit the British-born filmmaker as well with pumping some fresh blood into the tired zombie genre by making us realize that those shuffling monsters in movies and TV once had lives and feelings much like our own. He has also gotten a convincingly emotional performance (as far as this writer is concerned) from an action hero whose acting style has often been characterized as, to put it kindly, wooden.
According to IMDB, Hobson had no new directing projects in the pipeline as of March 6,2016 (part of that may be due to Maggie‘s dismal fate at the box office (I saw it on Netflix) but on the basis of this debut I look forward to his challenging feature.
As for Ms. Breslin, on the basis of what I have seen here, her talent has been wasted in movies like Wicked Blood and The Call. (Either get yourself a new agent or make better film choices.)