Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Setback is defined as an unfortunate happening that hinders or impedes; something that is thwarting or frustrating.  Or a setback is something that happens to once promising careers when they appear incomplete and utter garbage and thrust said garbage unto an unsuspecting public and try to pass it off as entertainment.  ‘The Wicker Man’ qualifies as an unmitigated setback for all involved.

Neil Labute, a director of some note who has made some interesting slow moving adult dramas such as ‘In the company of Men’ and ‘Your Friends and Neighbors’ and one slow moving adult comedy in ‘Nurse Betty’ lends his skill set to recreate ‘The Wicker Man’ which is a slow moving thriller.  Now, ‘slow moving’ and ‘thriller’ are generally two great tastes that don’t taste great together and they definitely don’t go together here.

Nicholas Cage is motorcycle cop Edward Malus who, while patrolling the freeway, witnesses the horrific crash and fiery deaths of a mother and a child that he was lending assistance to.   Oddly though, no bodies were found.  This may or may not be connected to something in the story, but is never fully revealed, at least to my satisfaction.  One of the get well letters Malus receives is from his ex-fiance who tells him of her missing six-year-old daughter and that she desperately needs his help to find her.  Hesitant at first, considering the insensitive bitch abandoned him days before they were to be wed, he decides to help her find the child and descends to mysterious remote island of Summersisle.

This is one weird joint as it is completely dominated by women and all of the men on the island are docile and act as if their tongues have been removed.  Malus hooks back up with his ex-fiancee, Willow (Kate Beehan), while trying uncover the mystery of the missing child, with most of the misdirection being spear headed by the mistress of the island, Sister Summersisle (Ellen Burstyn).  We are then treated to a series of cover ups, intrigue and confusion as Malus is ran around in circles never knowing what to believe and who to trust.

Though this is definite setback for Academy Award winner Nicholas Cage, he almost saves the movie with some genuine hilarity in quite a few of his scenes, though I don’t think he was trying to be funny.  The main problem, and there are many, is that you don’t give a damn about Malus, the missing child, the freaky chicks on the island, or the crooked lipped fiancée.  And considering the incredibly slow pace of this thing, you had better care about something, otherwise you’re just trapped in your seat watching your eyes glaze over wishing for this boring, seemingly pointless film to end.

This is, I’m told, a remake of an English cult film starring The Equalizer himself, Edward Woodward.  The quality of the original is delivered to me with mixed messages as some people apparently loved it and others wonder why in the high heavens would someone want to remake that junk.  I haven’t seen the original so I can’t comment on it, though I have slid it in the bottom of my Netflix cue and will review it for you good people at later date.  I can speak to the quality of the remake however and it is non-existent.  A real contender for our bottom ten of the year, avoid the ‘Wicker Man’ at all costs.

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