Carriers Movie Review
Chris Pine had a breakout year in 2009, with some little movie called Star Trek making a few bucks at the dollar theater. But for every hit, there's a failure, and Pine's failure of the year is Carriers, a post-apocalyptic thriller about four friends who travel around a deserted United States in the wake of a deadly outbreak that has killed off most of the population.
As with all movies dealing with the end of humanity, Carriers had potential, but as Alex and David Pastor prove, you need substance to meet such potential. Carriers comes close to being something, but in the end it's a forgettable movie with uninteresting characters and a bland story. It's okay, Mr. Pine, you have Star Trek 2 to look forward to.
The problem with Carriers is that the Pastor brothers, who both wrote and directed the movie, couldn't decide what story to tell. The movie's plot is scrapped together from other, better films, but in the process they forget to give us a reason to watch it.
The first problem is that the Pastor brothers never lay down the rules for how the disease, which is central to the story, operates. The disease is apparently highly contagious, but at times the four leads - Chris Pine, Lou Taylor Pucci, Piper Perabo and Emily VanCamp - hang out in close proximity to dead bodies without putting on their masks. In fact, they often don't seem too concerned about catching the disease, though in some scenes they are, rightfully, cautious. It's hard to know when to get worked up about a suspenseful segment when the filmmakers clearly don't know how to deliver suspense.
In the beginning, the leads seem very paranoid about avoiding the disease at all costs, including contact with other human beings. And yet, one of the characters soon foolishly exposes herself to the disease in the dumbest of ways. So what if that little girl is coughing up blood? If you know you're going to die if you go near her, you don't go near her no matter how many motherly neurons are firing away in that brain. It's moments like these - and there are several in Carriers - that seem extremely forced.
Carriers is full of fragmented narratives, few of which go anywhere. The Pastors set up a potentially interesting dynamic between the four leads and a father and his dying daughter (the father is played by Christopher Meloni), but that story arc is abandoned early on. When the group is ambushed by a bunch of former military men, it appears the movie is going to take a drastic turn for the better, but then they run off and aren't seen again. In another scene, some hoodlums in a truck kill a guy running down the highway, but the main characters never encounter any threat like that the rest of the movie. And in yet another, when a main character is infected, he suddenly - and momentarily - turns into a villain as he prevents his friends from leaving.
And this leads to a greater issue: none of the characters are particularly likable or developed. Pine and Perabo are supposed to be a couple, but they completely lack chemistry with one another. Pine plays a complete dick, but he stays that way until the end; there's nothing redeemable about him. Pucci is so boring and annoying you wish he'd get infected, and VanCamp is severely underdeveloped and underutilized. At one point, the Pastors allude to Pucci and VanCamp hooking up - a cliché but common sense story arc - but something as simple as that the filmmakers don't nurture. In a movie where there are few humans left, the filmmakers have to give us a reason to want at least some of them to survive; the Pastors don't do that.
Carriers is an easy-to-watch movie that is, ultimately, harmless. But that's exactly the problem. The movie is surprisingly boring and plain: the action scenes, if you can call them that, are incredibly short and pointless; the characters are uninteresting; and the story pointless. There's a reason why Carriers never received a wide release - no, actually there are several.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.