'Exposed': Film Review

There's a good reason the director took his name off the project.
1/22/2016

Keanu Reeves plays a cop hunting for his partner's killer in this supernatural-tinged thriller.

Moviegoers, or far more likely, VOD consumers, may well feel sorely resentful upon watching Keanu Reeves' latest film, which is being advertised as a cop thriller but contains nary a trace of narrative suspense. Having been re-edited by the producers to the point where its director Gee Malik Linton removed his name from the project, Exposed mainly serves to expose the often torturous process of moviemaking and distribution. The pic was quietly sneaked into theaters without advance press screenings.

Originally conceived as a mostly Spanish-language drama featuring serious themes tinged with supernatural elements, the film, previously titled Daughter of God, now mostly concentrates on the story of a dogged, burnt-out police detective (Reeves, largely conveying the latter attribute) in his search for the murderer of his corrupt partner. His investigation, complicated by his troubled interactions with his less than helpful boss (Christopher McDonald) and his partner's ex-wife (Mira Sorvino), is interwoven with the story of a young Hispanic woman experiencing surreal visions.

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The woman, Isabel (Ana de Armas, who also co-starred with Reeves in last year's Knock Knock), has a soldier husband stationed overseas with whom she Skypes and a brother-in-law, Rocky (Gabe Vargas), who becomes a suspect in the investigation. Another principal suspect is a menacing gangster (Big Daddy Kane) who also has issues with Rocky.

The director, here billed as "Declan Dale" (why his pseudonym sounds like a porn name is another mystery), clearly had serious ambitions for the movie, as evidenced by several of the characters dealing with parental issues and the spiritual component of Isabel's visions, which include an angelic man suspended over subway tracks and a ghostly Asian woman who repeatedly appears at key moments. Isabel also reveals to her husband's family that she's pregnant, which she describes as a miracle since he has been away for over a year. Not surprisingly, they don't take the news well.

Despite having been edited down to a streamlined 102 minutes, the pic moves sluggishly, with neither of the dual storylines holding much interest. Reeves, always a minimalist actor, seems to be sleepwalking through his role; de Armas, although appealing, isn't up to her character's intense emotional demands; and Sorvino is so all over the place as the emotionally volatile widow that one can only charitably ascribe it to the choppy re-editing.

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There are glimpses here and there of the film Exposed might have been, especially through the well-photographed upper Manhattan locations that provide a memorably gritty atmosphere. But anyone looking for a good Reeves thriller would be well advised to wait until John Wick 2.

Distributor: Lionsgate Premier
Production: Company Films, Emmett/Furla Films, Fortitude International, PalmStar Media, Remark Films
Cast: Ana de Armas, Keanu Reeves, Christopher McDonald, Mira Sorvino, Big Daddy Kane, Venue Ariel, Michael Rispoli, Gabriel Vargas
Director: Declan Dale
Screenwriter: Gee Malik Linton
Producers: Robin Gurland, Gee Malik Linton, Keanu Reeves
Executive producers: Cassian Elwes, Katie Mustard, Elie Samaha, Randall Emmett, George Furla, Barry Brooker, Stan Wertlieb, Nadine de Barros, Robert Ogden Barnum, Ike Suri, Jaclyn Ann Suri, Kevin Frakes, Buddy Patrick, Ankur Rungta, Scott Fischer, Galt Niederhoffer, Dan Grodnik, Seth Kramer, Curt Kramer
Director of photography: Trevor Forrest
Production designer: Tania Bijlani
Editor: Melody London
Composer: Carlos Jose Alvarez
Costume designer: Amela Baksic
Casting: Ellyn Long Marshall, Naria E. Nelson

Rated R, 102 minutes

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