'The Crash': Film Review

A nonsensical brink-of-disaster flick nowhere near as scary as the real world.
1/13/2017

A stock-market manipulator must save the world economy from economic terrorists in Aram Rappaport's would-be financial thriller.

Old to-catch-a-thief cliches get dusted off and mangled in The Crash, Aram Rappaport's macroeconomic technodrama in which a stock-market hacker is recruited by the feds to protect the New York Stock Exchange from unknown terrorists. No film in which the Chairman of the Federal Reserve (played here by Christopher McDonald) is the most colorful character can be said to have much grip on reality, but this one is further off the mark than even that suggests; theatrically and on video, its stock will tank quickly enough to test the reflexes of a high-frequency trading algorithm.

Frank Grillo makes an unsympathetic leading turn as the onetime financial-software star currently facing charges for hacking the NYSE. When the government gets word that a more nefarious attack is imminent, the secretary of the Treasury (Mary McCormack) decides he's the only one who can protect America's economy. He assembles his crack team of computer experts, one of whom is secretly having an affair with Grillo's cancer-struck daughter. The movie vastly overestimates our interest in this subplot — perhaps because it understands that the rest of its action boils down to one long computer-networking conversation.

In a film whose negotiations and planning sessions rarely happen in any place you'd expect (or believe), the biggest implausibility of all occurs when Grillo declares that, in order to make his defense plan work, "we need 5 percent of the internet — the fastest 5 percent": In response, his government handlers take him to an abandoned barge full of servers that were assembled for a post-9/11 contingency plan. Because dusty, 16-year-old computers are just the tool every genius hacker dreams of.

Several respectable actors offer dicey performances here, but Rappaport's screenplay is the real villain, expecting thin references to real-world financial peril to paper over gaping holes in credibility and plain-old drama.

 

Production companies: Windward Entertainment, Cloud Factor Collective

Distributor: Vertical Entertainment

Cast: Frank Grillo, Mary McCormack, Christopher McDonald, John Leguizamo, Ed Westwick, Minnie Driver, AnnaSophia Robb

Director-Screenwriter-Editor: Aram Rappaport

Producers: Aaron Becker, Gabriel Cowan, Isaac LaMell, Atit Shah, Hilary Shor, Peter Shuldiner, John Suits

Executive producers: Baird Kellogg, Shane Mandes, Regina von Flemming

Director of photography: Matt Turve

Production designer: Dawn R. Ferry

Costume designer: Alexandra Mandelkorn

Composer: Guy Moon

 

R, 84 minutes

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