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The opportunity to watch a dapper Pierce Brosnan gleefully hamming it up as a devil-like figure who quotes Norman Mailer and Delmore Schwartz is the sole compensation for watching Aaron Kaufman’s B-movie thriller about a group of friends who fall under the sway of an evil designer drug. Audiences tempted to catch Urge in its limited theatrical release or on VOD would be well-advised to remember Nancy Reagan’s famous advice: Just say no.
Danny Masterson plays Neil, a tech millionaire (the only kind seen onscreen these days) who invites his buddies — including his personal assistant Theresa (Ashley Greene), with whom he’s involved in a troubled romantic relationship — on a weekend getaway to his mansion on an exclusive island. Attending a debauched nightclub featuring a mime-like mascot dressed like a red spermatozoa, they meet its owner (identified in the credits only as “The Man”) who offers them the opportunity to try his specialty drug, dubbed Urge, a blue inhalant that removes inhibitions and offers licentious pleasures, particularly of the amorous variety, to anyone who takes it.
They all partake of the offering, which indeed lives up to its promises for everyone save the freewheeling Jason (Justin Chatwin), who hardly seems to need drugs anyway. But as usual with these sorts of demonic temptations, there’s a catch: You can only take Urge once, with any attempt to repeat the experience destined to be ruinous.
Since otherwise the movie would fall far short of a feature-length running time, the heedless partyers take the drug again the next night. Only this time it leads straight to hell, not only for them but also for everyone else on the island, which suddenly erupts into an orgy of violence and depravity.
Screenwriter Jerry Stahl (Bad Boys II, Hemingway & Gellhorn) knows this territory well, having written the book Permanent Midnight and some very funny addiction-themed episodes of IFC’s Maron. But whatever social commentary is intended in this cautionary tale, it is lost in the overall thematic murkiness, and the film is reduced to being a series of increasingly silly, ultra-violent episodes.
The attractive performers go through their lurid paces with admirable conviction, and a slumming Brosnan at least seems to be having a good time channeling his inner Christopher Lee. But the standout turn, albeit a cameo one, is delivered by Kevin Corrigan, hilarious as a hospital security guard angrily bemoaning societal disintegration just before graphically becoming one of its victims.
Distributor: Lionsgate Premiere
Production companies: Sculptor Media, Green-Light International, Blackmrkt, Europictures, WeatherVane Productions
Cast: Danny Masterson, Pierce Brosnan, Justin Chatwin, Ashley Greene, Chris Geere, Bar Paly, Alexis Knapp
Director: Aaron Kaufman
Screenwriter: Jerry Stahl
Producers: Aaron Kaufman, Yoram Barzilai, Warren T. Goz, Andrew Mann, Eric Gold, Danny Masterson, Mark Neveldine, Skip Williamson
Director of photography: Lyle Vincent
Production designer: Christopher Stull
Editor: Jeffrey Wolf
Costume designer: Gina Ruiz
Composer: The Newton Brothers
Rated R, 90 minutes
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