Teen thriller meets expectations, which are pretty low. The Skulls, starring Joshua Jackson (TV's "Dawson's Creek"), acting as the first of two box office flops in the span of a month for the fairly popular actor, is a child-like version of The Firm, where a college student gets accepted to a secret society, and then realizes that this society is responsible for murder.
Like any teen movie, the story is a blend of TV-quality scripting, cheesy acting here and there, a story that is trying to act more complicated than it really is, and, of course, a female love interest, which proves to be the most interesting part of the movie. You can tell The Skulls is trying to be hip and smart at the same time, but what results is a mess with a very simplistic plot, a very anticlimactic ending, and a PG-rated love scene.
Jackson actually defies expectations and delivers a fairly solid performance, showing that he could possibly, given a better script and better movie, pull of a believable job. Of course, he has a script aimed at the younger MTV audience, so he is forced to release line after line of garbage.
Paul Walker, who had a break out performance in 2001's The Fast and the Furious, stars as Jackson's quasi-enemy/friend, who is the main source of conflict in the movie. Unfortunately, Walker is a lot worse than he is in Fast and the Furious (and he wasn't that great in that, either), and he doesn't even play the real bad guy. The strange thing is that The Skulls tries to create all this friction between Walker and Jackson, but somewhere along the lines decides that audiences would rather see Walker as a good guy, so they throw in a very predictable twist (that is conveniently recorded on videotape).
When The Skulls finally drags to the end, you will be shocked by how weak and boring the conclusion is. I guess no one can think of original endings these days, and The Skulls uses the most clichéd one in the book, a gun dual to the death. Yes, this is based in modern times.
The Skulls is trying to play to a young audience and be college-based at the same time. Most of the movie's content is PG-rated, but if thrillers really need more serious content to be believable and entertaining. The Skulls tries at time but never builds on its skeletal structure, and that is what you are left with, a boring, hollow film made for the mindless.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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