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‘Dangerous’ review: Action thriller impossible to figure out

Formulaic but confusing.

Dangerous has a lot of familiar names to go with its plot that is made up of ideas from other films. Dylan Forrester (Scott Eastwood) is trying to serve out his parole under the radar. He sees a psychiatrist (Mel Gibson) and takes antidepressants to get through life. When his brother dies mysteriously, Dylan breaks his parole. With an FBI agent (Famke Janssen) after him, he is committed to discovering the truth.

The plot actually manages to pull off the rare trick of being formulaic but still have the audience question what is going on. Dangerous does this by never quite figuring out what sort of tone it wants to have. Dylan has the requisite one liners needed to be a bad ass, but he lacks the charisma. The scenes with his psychiatrist are hilarious, yet they are not played for laughs. At the same time, Dylan has to confront a mother who hates him and try not to get murdered by mercenaries.

This is not a knock against Eastwood’s acting. As a matter of fact, he is able to play a remorseless psychopath very well. It has more to do with the writing. Dylan is never really given anything memorable to do. Cutting someone’s palm to use as a distraction may sound like a cool idea on paper, but it just comes off as ugly and mean on screen. The jokes are little more than statements made with awkward pauses.

Dangerous seems to be trying to show that Dylan is having to let into his darker tendencies in order to solve the mystery, but it always comes off poorly. Worst of these are the moments when he goes to contact Dr. Alderwood in the middle of a tense situation. These scenes should be funny (Gibson is certainly playing up the silly factor), but the film seems to take them seriously.

What makes this frustrating is there is a good movie inside all the wackiness. The premise may be formulaic, but there are hints Dangerous is going to do more with it. Dylan’s attempts to not kill are inspired, for example. These scenes are more the exception to the rule. Dangerous never finds its way and still manages to go off the rails.

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