Frailty (2002)


Killing People is Wrong, Destroying Demons is Good

Today’s movie comes as another review request, this time from my friend Ryan.  The movie did not escape my radar, but I never got visual confirmation on it.  That is an overly complicated way to say that I knew about it, but never saw it.  And to even say I knew about it perhaps goes too far.  I had seen the DVD on the shelves at stores, knew who was in it, vaguely knew it was horror, and that about covers it.  And I do greatly appreciate it when these requests make me watch a movie I hadn’t already seen, even if that movie is horrible.  Is this movie horrible?  Let’s find out in my review of Frailty, written by Brent Hanley, directed by and starring Bill Paxton, and starring Matt O’Leary, Jeremy Sumpter, Matthew McConaughey, Levi Kreis, Powers Boothe, Luke Askew, and Missy Crider.

We start off the story in a police office in Dallax, Texas.  Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe) enters his office to talk to a man, who introduces himself as Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey).  Fenton tells Doyle that a rash of serial killings known as the “God’s Hand” killings are being committed by his brother, Adam (Levi Kreis).  Asked to explain, Meiks jumps into flashback.  When Adam (Jeremy Sumpter) and Fenton (Matt O’Leary) were kids, they lived a pretty normal life with their unnamed dad, Dad (Bill Paxton).  Normal, until Dad wakes up one night, stares at his bowling trophy, and decides he’s gotten a message from God.  This message is that he needs to start destroying demons, and he’ll be sent three magical weapons and a list that he’ll use to do so.  These demons will look like normal people, but they’re demons.  There is no other explanation for this than divine intervention.  Let’s kill some people!  …I mean destroy demons.  Adam is totally on board with Dad, but Fenton would rather be a stick in the mud.  Dad assures Fenton that their sins will be revealed to the family when he lays his hands on the demons.  God sends Dad the weapons in the form of a magical lead pipe to knock out the demons, magical gardening gloves so their sins aren’t revealed before justice time, and an axe with ‘Otis’ carved into the handle.  As Dad starts getting into the destruction of demons, Adam feels that he too can see the sins of the demons with Dad lays his hands on them, but Fenton sees nothing beyond his father murdering people with an axe.  Generally speaking, this doesn’t work out well for Fenton, but he must figure out what to do about Dad.

I mostly liked this movie.  Well, technically I guess I’d say I did like the movie, but I had story issues that are spoilers and I’ll get to later.  I found the story itself very intriguing.  As a religious person, you might expect I would find this movie upsetting because God is causing this guy to kill people.  As a rational person, you might expect I would find it upsetting because this nutjob with his Jesus crutch is killing people.  But, as me, I just found this to be a good, intriguing watch.  I did have a lot of the Jesus crutch reaction, but I’ll get into that when I spoil in the next paragraph.  There were a few parts that confused me about the movie, but they didn’t stop me from enjoying it.  When Paxton and Fenton go to kill Fenton’s first demon, the “demon” guy is very creepy and tries to attack them, but this is never explained at all.  As far as he knows, it’s just a guy and his kids with a flat tire.  Why was he attacking?  This part stuck in my brain as a problem a lot longer than it probably should have.  But, again, this didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the movie.

::SPOILER ALERT:: Let’s talk about what did take away from my enjoyment: the ending.  Throughout the entire movie, you’re never given any reason to believe that Paxton is anything but looney.  You’re being told the story in a flashback from someone that you believe is Fenton, the person who didn’t believe Dad and Adam.  In the end, it turns out that not only is the story being told by grown up Adam (McConaughey lying and saying he’s Fenton), but there is a greater possibility that God actually is leading them to kill people.  When Adam touches the hand of Powers Boothe, he sees that Boothe killed his own mother and that paralyzes Boothe into being unable to attack Adam.  Also, the people that let Adam in to see Agent Doyle inexplicably remembered nothing about Adam and even didn’t recognize him when they saw him again, and the surveillance footage had an imperfection that blocked his face.  I believed Paxton was a lunatic for the entire movie because my version of God wouldn’t tell someone to go kill things.  The way this movie ends seems to almost endorse the idea that some people may be doing the right thing to go out and kill for God.  The reason I’m torn about the ending is because they path they took was the one with the interesting twist, but the horrible message.  I’ll say it for this movie: “Just enjoy watching it, but don’t listen to your bowling trophy if it tells you to kill people.”  ::END SPOILERS::

It turns out McConaughey is a monkey!  HAHA!  Spoilers were NOT really over!  Okay, I’m just kidding.  Let’s talk acting.  McConaughey puts on a pretty solid performance here, and by that I mean he gets his shirt off by the second time you see him.  COME ON, DUDE!  Ah, who’m I kidding?  If I had sweet abs, I’d never wear a shirt either.  But he is fairly solid in this movie, but he’s also scarcely in it.  When he is, he’s pretty apprehensive and beaten down as you would expect Fenton to be after what you see him go through, and he changes persona in the very end.  When he’s not in the movie, he’s played by Matt O’Leary, who performs very well for the most part.  He’s the only one who doesn’t believe what’s going on is divinely inspired and he can’t get help because he loves his father but knows he has to do something and starts doubting religion because of it.  He pulls off the conflict very well.  Both versions of Adam are barely featured here.  Powers Boothe was alright.  No complaints.  Oh wait…  That dude was Curly Bill in Tombstone?  I’m going to up my response to his performance.  He was now the greatest actor ever.  Okay, he wasn’t even the greatest in this movie.  Bill Paxton stole the show, and why wouldn’t he?  He did direct the thing.  But he does crazy well, and he also does loveable well, so he did this part perfectly.  He was crazy, but he was also a good dad, so you can understand Fenton’s conflict.

There you go, Ryan.  Thanks and you’re welcome.  Thanks because I did like this movie.  Interesting story with a nice twist ending, although that same ending kind of kicked any positive message in the balls.  The performances were also very good.  And, of course, you’re welcome because I just typed over 1200 words for you.  Frailty is definitely worth a rental, though I don’t think it’s on Netflix streaming, and I doubt you’ll find it in a RedBox, but you should rent it at least.  I think it’d probably be a pretty cheap purchase by now, and I may do just that.  Altogether, I will give Frailty “We’re just fulfilling God’s will” out of “Sometimes truth defies reason”.

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

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