Directed by Bill Paxton
Starring Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe
Review by Jordan
Enthusiastically praised upon release by such notaries as James Cameron (Aliens), Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, A Simple Plan) and Stephen King, Bill Paxton’s directorial debut Frailty, about a grown son (McConaughey) recounting the the events that lead to his father (Paxton) becoming the still unidentified “God’s Hand killer” to faithless FBI Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe), is a dark, unflinching and supremely crafted thriller about the weakness of man and our inherent, and horrific violent nature.
Told mostly in flashbacks, in a style immediately reminiscent of The Usual Suspects (1995), we are introduced to the imminently likable Meiks family, consisting of a caring father and his two sons, 12 year old Fenton (Matt O’Leary) and 9 year old Adam (Jeremy Sumpter), whose lives are rocked when God visits the father in a vision, informing him of the upcoming Apocalypse and that is the duty of him and his family to help rid the world of Demons masquerading as ordinary humans. Soon after this vision, “Dad Meiks” is provided with the 3 chosen weapons to assist in his calling, and when at work at the local mechanics an Angel appears unto him with a list containing the first of the “Demons” to be dispatched… it’s not murdering, he explains to his sons, it’s only murder if you kill a human being.
While McConaughey, Boothe, O’Leary and Sumpter all provide exquisite performances, this is truly Paxton’s show. His direction allows the story to live and breathe on its own accord, without ever casting judgment or resorting to tricks to conjure thrills, and his acting is in a class of its own; inhabiting a father with a deep love for his sons both before and after his mission begins. Simple scenes in which he puts them to bed, drives them to school and sits down for dinner with them emit a realistic and warm feel, which of course makes the latter proceeding that much more troubling and heart-wrenching to endure.
Commonly (and possibly mistakenly) placed in the horror genre, Frailty doesn’t provide any scares that will cause you to jolt in your seat or scream out loud, the fear is far more memorable than that. The terrifying reality about serial killers is that a lot believe the monstrous acts they perform are warranted, justified, that they kill for a reason beyond the realm of the common person’s understanding. Is this a film that supports this notion? Or one in which supernatural forces really are at play? You decide for yourself…
4.5 beams of light out of 5