R | 103 min | Drama, Thriller
Review - Matt Mungle
**in theaters August 28th*
Synopsis: Sam Ellis is a man on the rise -- a hotshot federal prosecutor on the cusp of a bright political future. But what was meant to be a one-time experience with a high-end escort instead turns into a growing addiction. His moral compass unraveling, his new demon threatens to destroy his life, family and career.
Review: Once you get past a title that lacks any sort of creativity you will find that ZIPPER is a not too shabby drama. The plot is engaging and the characters will remind you of some popular and current creations.
Federal Prosecutor Sam Ellis (Patrick Wilson) is tapped for the fast track up the political ladder. He seems to have it all. The white picket fence family, soft spoken humbleness, and a charm that would get votes with ease. He even seems to have his inner struggle with the opposite sex in check. He tries his best to avoid temptation and circumvent any snare along the way. But when a client turns him on (literally) to a classy escort service things begin to unravel. What Sam was once able to keep at bay bursts forth in ferocious fashion.
The poster for the film has a bi-line that reads, "Why take the Risk?". If you asked Sam that question he would more than likely shake his head and mumble an answer close to "I don't know." This character is not a Francis Underwood from House of Cards. He doesn't wear his depravity with a smug smile. Sam is more likely to be found fighting for the little guy in a John Grisham novel. (Which would more than likely be called The Zipper). His wife Jeannie (Lena Headey) is loving and supportive and there is no reason for him to do the things that he does. But what a common tale.
Though full of graphic sex and nudity this is not just a titillating tryst. It is an edgy drama about a man trying to stay a step ahead of a complete downfall. When the FBI starts investigating the Escort service, Sam is sure they will find out his involvement. Add to this a political journalist (Ray Winstone) who isn't quite in Sam's camp and a campaign director (Richard Dreyfuss) driving Sam's career and you get a mix of legal tender that is actually very intriguing.
Wilson is superb in this and captures both the confidence of a Prosecutor and the shame of a man unable to overcome his addiction. You see the struggle on the lines of his face and in the catch of his voice. He is the poster child for a Grisham book cover and sells lawyer role nicely. Heady is a strong figure as his unsuspecting wife. As the truth comes out so does her backbone. What you first take for southern submissiveness you soon see as calculating wisdom.
All that is the good news. The not as good news is that this looks and feels like a made for TV movie; and would be an upstanding one if so. The pacing and editing make you expect a commercial break at any moment. The dialogue is always delivered grandly but is written as if for the small screen. Of course the content is very graphic and would end up on the premium channels. All this makes it a fantastic renter but just an on-par box office flick.
ZIPPER is rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and brief drug use. As mentioned it is a very adult film and doesn't put the sex in the shadows. I think it could have been more subtle and still delivered the same thrilling punches. The meat of the film is Sam and his struggle. We know what happens behind closed doors and the more interesting part is what happens to him in the light of day. I give it 3 out of 5 ATM withdrawals. An edgy thriller best viewed on your couch and not the high price theater seat.