14 January 2008 | Mr_Saxon
This Box Is Empty
"The Box" begins with flashes of gunfire inside a house and a police unit moving into position. Inside the house, the cops discover a stack of bodies and two survivors amongst the carnage. The first is the quiet Finn Williams (Yul Vasquez) who had been enjoying an evening with his friends, one of whom was looking after the house for its owner. The second is Danny Schamus (A J Buckley) who had been one of three men who had invaded the house with loaded weapons in search of the titular box. The two survivors are then interrogated by Detectives Romano (Gabrielle Union) and Burkhalter (Giancarlo Esposito) as to what actually happened.
Despite similarities to "The Usual Suspects" in both its structure and the way it plays with fact versus fiction, "The Box" is ultimately let down by its mediocre script (which relies on a LOT of annoying coincidences) and flat, boring direction. It has the spark of a good idea as the audience is given two depictions of events and invited to choose which - if either - is correct. However, the plot simply isn't strong enough to carry its running time (I started checking my watch around the hour mark) and is hindered by such awful scenes as a couple lying upon a bed as slushy romantic music plays around them. The resolution also decides to throw as many plot twists at the audience as possible and hopes that some of them stick. They don't.
The actors, on the whole, are fine with Max Ryan giving the best performance of the movie as the unhinged Ray Kamen who leads the three home invaders (the scene where he begins hopping around a room like a bunny rabbit in front of a man he's torturing manages to be both funny and unnerving at the same time).
Overall, "The Box" is annoying because it had the potential to be a lot better. I found it less entertaining than an episode of "C.S.I", and it was instantly forgettable afterwards. Instead of renting this movie, I'd recommend watching "The Usual Suspects" instead (even if you've already seen it) or perhaps "Lucky Number Sleven". This box isn't worth opening.