DVD Review: ‘Demolition’ Focuses More On Metaphors, Less On Character Development
“Demolition” brings Jake Gyllenhaal down a path of metaphorical and physical destruction.
After losing his wife in a tragic car accident, investment banker Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal) goes on a downward spiral. As a means of grieving, Davis writes a complaint letter to a vending company that evolves into a number of emotional release letters. This creates a connection with the customer service rep Karen (Naomi Watts), who joins him on his path of both metaphorical and physical destruction.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Plot, etc.) – 2.5
With Jake Gyllenhaal taking the lead, many would expect “Demolition” to garner a more than adequate performance from the Oscar nominated actor. Those who expected that stellar performance will be greatly appeased after watching this film as Gyllenhaal does bring his A-game. While his character’s quest for escaping an emotional void would seemingly constitute little range, Davis’ numbed spirit is accurately conveyed by Gyllenhaal.
Unfortunately while “Demolition” touts a great performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, his performance overshadows the rest of the cast as this film is essentially a one man show. Naomi Watts is a bit off her game in this film and it seems to be a trend recently with her last few films. I’m not sure if it’s the roles that she’s taking but her character in “Demolition” is very one dimensional and essentially unnecessary. I think the plot and other characters would have thrived if she had less of a role and there was more focus on Gyllenhaal’s character and those close to him. Personally, I felt like it was a waste to not bring more focus on Davis’ relationship with his father in law played by Chris Cooper. Cooper still holds his own on screen and supplemented Jake Gyllenhaal whenever they shared a scene.
With a plot that centers around one character, character development is the driving force for “Demolition.” This puts a lot of pressure on every role to carry an adequate amount of substance which falls short overall. The first act holds some intrigue and incites wonder about what is happening to Davis, but the potential for dynamic development declines in the second act. Things seem to taper off and Davis remains in an emotional limbo while developing a drab relationship with Karen. The third act brings closure but unfortunately the second act resonated with me too much to fully appreciate the culmination of events.
Overall there were a lot of lackluster moments in story but Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance is noteworthy enough to appreciate “Demolition” to an extent. The extreme moments of Davis’ breakdown hold interest while the chemistry between Davis and Karen brings things to a halt.
Entertainment Value – 3
There are a lot of piecemeal moments that piqued my interest in “Demolition.” While not all added to a more cohesive story, Davis’ physically destructive nature produced some over-the-top moments that entertained. The anticipation continued to build towards what he would do next and how far he would go so even the stagnant moments garnered my attention while waiting for Davis to explode.
The anticipation unfortunately wasn’t high enough to forget the stale moments. At times it was a slow burn watching Davis unfold despite waiting for the next explosion. There would be internal conflict that was obviously present but left unexplained. There was some fun watching him unravel but his interactions with others hurt that fun. But overall the fun still prevailed with a slight edge over the lackluster moments.
Re-Watchability – 1.5
Unfortunately I think that “Demolition” is a “one and done” film. I don’t have much of a desire to watch this film again except for a case of comparative analysis when it comes to Jake Gyllenhaal performances.
There are not a lot of features beyond the film itself. The “Demolition” DVD extras consist of the film’s trailer and some behind-the-scene photos. When I purchase a physical disk for home viewing, the extras are essential and unfortunately “Demolition” comes up a bit short in that area.
- Entertainment Value
"Demolition" puts Jake Gyllenhaal in a position for another great performance and he does not disappoint. Unfortunately the film itself can't demand that same level of praise. It has its intermittent moments of engagement but there is also a stagnant stall in between the fun.
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