Freezer (R)

Action/Adventure 82 min. January 17, 2014
By Ernest Hardy
In the last 10 minutes or so of Freezer, the narrative twists come at a dizzying rate; secret identities are revealed, unexpected motives uncovered, and nearly everything that has come before purposefully unraveled. Director Mikael Salomon, working from a screenplay by Tom Doganoglu and Shane Weisfeld, demonstrates an assured sleight of hand that underscores the film’s magnificent plot structure. It’s a pity, then, that getting to that point is made something of a chore by the way the central character, Robert Saunders (Dylan McDermott), is conceptualized, written and directed. Out for a birthday celebration, Robert, a mechanic, is abducted by Russian thugs who assume he has absconded with $8 million belonging to their operatically evil boss. Nothing convinces them otherwise as they pummel him in what appears to be a restaurant’s freezing meat locker, which is where the entire film takes place. The single setting creates a sustained tension that slowly builds as new characters are brought into the space. As the clock ticks toward a showdown with the Russian overlord, Robert proves insufferable despite his victim status, and not in a way that deepens or complicates his character. Swaggering like a moldy Bruce Willis knockoff, he’s a smarmy, nonstop flow of quips and wisecracks, even when coughing up blood. (McDermott is clearly having a ball.) But the choice to shape the character that way, rather than making him an appealing underdog, renders him unbelievable in the circumstance, and proves something of a clunky tip-off that things may not be what they seem.
Mikael Salomon Dylan McDermott, Peter Facinelli, Yuliya Snigir, Pascal Petardi, Andrey Ivchenko, Milan Malisic Tom Doganoglu, Shane Weisfeld Anchor Bay Entertainment

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