31 May 2006 | michaelplewa
Perfectly competent teeny thriller
Mix schlocky but hilarious Hollywood hack dialogue with equally schlocky but hilarious Hollywood hack plotting, and you get a potent 1-2 sucker punch to your intellect...I call it...THE SKULLS. A delightfully silly movie, it moves briskly through semi-serious conflicts and silly conspiracies, and all with the the intelligence of your average CBS movie of the week. But it has a sense of momentum that you can't escape, and soon your on a ride that combines equal parts laughs and smiles, nothing too grim, but a (for what it is) fanatical devotion to its own plot devices. The maguffin of the Skulls society is their rule book, a device that comes to charming use late in the movie. William Peterson's senator reminds Joshua Jackson repeatedly that every conflict, every ordeal, can be solved within the rule book...and indeed within the world of the Skulls, this book does hold all the answers. Dropping hints here and there as to how it'll all end, the movie has a charming level of mystery, no more sinister or thrilling than The Da Vinci Code, but thankfully much less serious in its handling.
One of my favorite scenes is one of the stupidest. The chosen boys are given a grand reception with the many distinguished alumni on a remote island that at times resembles Alcatraz and Hogwarts School for Wizards. The boys are given expensive diving watches (an obvious product placement) and then dressed in tuxedos where they shake hands and shift uncomfortably in their cumberbunds...until the director inexplicably cranks out Creed onto the soundtrack ("Can You Take Me Higher" no less!) and then this huge door opens and out walk whatever waif models were hot in 2000. And they strut out as if on a runway, no sense of acting in any of their faces, and it's pure schlock...and I love it!
Rob Cohen went on to XXX and then tanked with Stealth, but this shows what people in Hollywood saw in the guy. The film is fun, never too heavy, and perfectly suited for a fall evening with your none-too-intellectual school friends OR consumed in 12 minute intervals on TNT. It's plotted swiftly and compellingly enough to justify its running time...another honor not bestowed on The Da Vinci Code. Basically, it's perfectly mindless, harmless fun, with a better than average cast who seem to revel in the camp of it all. Enjoy when you got nothing better to do.