Monday, November 24, 2014

Streaming sleeper: the Johnston/Mason/Boyes ultra-timely thriller, NOT SAFE FOR WORK

How rare is it to discover a suddenly streamable genre movie that's first-rate yet never even received a theatrical release? Very. Which makes NOT SAFE FOR WORK (TrustMovies has finally learned what the Internet acronym NSFW actually means!) pretty much a must-see, especially for fans of sharp, tight, cat-and-mouse thrillers, of which we see damned few good ones anymore.

As directed by the capable-in-many-genres Joe Johnston, (shown at right) from a smart screenplay by Adam Mason and Simon Boyes, this little movie lasts only 74 minutes, yet for most of its running time is one of those eyes-on-a-screen-from-which-you-cannot-look-away endeavors. It's that tight and exciting.

Best of all, this is a film that relies not upon near-constant special effects but is instead concerned with clever plot mechanics, a very good script and smart dialog to whisk it along, abetted by the kind of direction that knows where to put the camera when and how to cut for maximum speed and intelligibility (the editing's by Rick Shaine).

Add to this a situation that puts you in the midst of Big Pharma, a major corporation, the Mafia and a large law firm -- yes, all of our favorite kinds of people, even though one of these turns out to be a red herring -- and you have a recipe for fast-moving, top-notch entertainment. All the more so for the movie's being near-completely unknown to most movie-goers.

Another smart move: making its hero nothing like a superman (he actually does some dumb things along the way) yet proves someone who, when severely tested, can rise to the occasion. As played by the excellent Max Minghella (above, who it is nice to see in a lead role), this guy is fun to be around, never more so than when he's playing for very high stakes.

The heroine is a pretty and bright secretary (Eloise Mumford, above), and the villain a very smooth-talking fellow (played by JJ Feild, below), who gives his character a most interesting spin.

The major supporting roles are played by Christian Clemenson (below), as the boss of the law firm;

Tom Gallop, as Minghella's co-worker (gasping, below) and Alejandro Patino (shown at bottom) as the building's kindly janitor.

Every cast member nails it. As does this juicy little out-of-nowhere movie. The film's ending has evidently proven problematic for some audiences. Too bad. Considering all we know these days, what happens here could hardly be more on the mark.

In retrospect you may have a few logic questions, but while it's moving along, Not Safe for Work is mostly riveting. It's available now via Netflix streaming, Amazon Instant Video, and on DVD.

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