The Two Faces of January Review: Hitchcockian By the Numbers

The Two Faces of January is a thriller. It has twists. It has a climax. It’s not great. It’s not terrible. It lacks passion and energy.

For a movie that so desperately wants you to be on the edge of your seat, you would hope it would actually try. Featuring a bland script and chemistry-less performances from its three leads, The Two Faces of January is nothing more than a typical thriller that leads to a somewhat exciting climax.

This movie is honestly so blase that I barely want to continue on with this review. But alas, the story follows Rydal (Oscar Isaac), a man begging for a father figure who happens to come across Chester and Collette (Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst, respectively) while they seemingly vacation in Athens, Greece. Turns out they are actually running from Chester’s fraudulent crimes.

When Chester accidentally kills a muscle man trying to get him to pay back his victims, Rydal helps him and his wife escape the city. While it’s a fine enough setup, a key component here is that Rydal is supposed to be attracted to Collette. Isaac and Dunst simply lack any and all chemistry. The same goes for Mortensen and Dunst, the supposed Bonnie and Clyde of this caper. It’s like all the major thriller plot points are being lifelessly hit just to move the story along.

But with this major of a point in the script not being sold, the rest of the film crumbles beneath it. The story only picks up when one of the three main players is taken out of the picture, giving way for an exciting climax that would have landed much better if the rest of the film had landed anything.

That said, the two remaining stars are much more capable of the later cat-and-mouse material than the uneasy love triangle forced upon us earlier.

It’s a shame because there is clearly a better movie in here somewhere. We know the cast is capable. Had the storytelling had any urgency it would have been more effective. Instead, we have a shell of a movie. One that clearly wanted to be more than it is at some stage in its production. Too bad it wasn’t. Grade: C

By Matt Dougherty

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