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Tom Welles is a family man with a modest home-based
private investigation business living a simple life in Pennsylvania-until
a reel of crudely shot eight millimeter film sends him down a
gritty and frightening path into society's darkest corners.
Thriller Mystery - 8mm is a thriller from the writer of the film Seven, and has
a similar dark and disturbing tone. Viewers who liked that previous film
are most likely to like this one. Many viewers will not want to see much
of the content of 8mm, which deals with snuff films, sexual violence,
S&M and other extreme activities. Fans of Nicolas Cage's darker work, in
films like Leaving Las Vegas may appreciate his performance; others,
who prefer him in romantic or comic roles, should not expect that kind
of role here.
PROFANITY: Strong and extremely frequent SEX/NUDITY: Nudity and sexual content, including sexual violence VIOLENCE: Shootings, stabbings and beatings DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Alcohol consumption ACTION: Chases and fight sequences COMEDY: Some ironic dialogue
It would seem that the creative sensibilities of screenwriter Andrew
Kevin Walker (Seven) and director Joel Schumacher (Batman &
Robin) couldn't be farther apart, which is one reason 8MM
isn't nearly as effective as it could be. This tale of a detective's
descent into the pornography underworld has moments of bleak effectiveness,
heading into the same creepy territory as Seven. Unfortunately,
Schumacher's slickness works against the film as often as for it, creating
a too-literal vision that threatens to become exploitative. It may be
enough that 8MM is just a decently constructed thriller, but it's
no apocalyptic gut-rattler.
Tom Welles (NICOLAS CAGE) is a surveillance
specialist--what used to be known as a "private eye"--but
his version of the profession is hardly the stuff of which legends
are made. He has a modest, home-based practice in Harrisburg,
Pennsylvania, where he lives an existence remarkable only for
its normalcy with wife Amy (CATHERINE KEENER) and their baby daughter,
Cindy. Respected but still waiting for a big break that will improve
his professional status, Welles spends most of his time on routine
cases involving unfaithful spouses and the like. Nothing too dangerous,
nor too threatening.
Until a small, innocuous-looking plastic reel of film turns Welles'
life upside down. It's a job that will lead Welles down an increasingly
dark and frightening path, as he relentlessly follows an bizarre
trail of evidence from Harrisburg to Cleveland and North Carolina,
and then on to the streets of Hollywood and New York City. Meticulously
assembling the maddening puzzle piece by piece, Welles' only assistance
comes from a streetwise adult bookstore clerk, Max (JOAQUIN PHOENIX),
who's smart enough to know the milieu he works in without giving
in to it. It's also a road that takes Welles further away from
his family, as his work turns into an obsession with the fate
of a girl whom, although a complete stranger to Tom, begins to
haunt his imagination and conscience. From missing persons archives
to shelters for runaway girls and into society's seamy, unspeakable
underbelly, Welles relentlessly wends his way to the truth. And
what Welles learns is beyond his wildest dreams and worst nightmares,
as he comes to realize how deadly a small reel of eight millimeter
film can be.