Frailty (2001): Review

Unfortunately Bill Paxton was one of those guys that I didn't truly appreciate until he was gone. When he died back in February I looked into some of his projects that seem to have gone by the wayside. I found Frailty, which is his directorial debut. I listened to Marc Maron's podcast shortly after Paxton died and in his interview he said that he was hoping to delve more into filmmaking than he got the chance to. He only managed to release two feature films: Frailty and The Greatest Game on Earth.

I thought I would mention that religion is a very key part of this film, but if you aren't religious you can definitely get some enjoyment out of it. I really liked this movie.

The film starts off with Powers Booth, playing an FBI agent involved in the case surrounding the "God's Hand" murders and Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey) has some insight into who the killer is. Meiks claims that the God's Hand killer is actually his brother Adam who is continuing the work of their dead father. Meiks then tells the story of his past and how religious father's visions lead to a series of murders of people he felt were demons.

Its amazing how engaging this thriller is from the very beginning. The film is nice and short and doesn't take any time to get developed. The group appear to be a normally lower middle class American family, but when Meiks begins to get orders from what he believes to be angels. This movie works so well because of how convincing Paxton's performance is. He obviously serves as the villain of the film, but he's a man who truly feels that he is God's servant and his murder's are God's work. He never sees himself as the villain or a murderer, but he will stop at nothing to execute what he feels is God's will.

Paxton's young children have to get involved in the killings are well and their naivety allows them to be brainwashed by their father's visions. It actually gets to the point where you feel that these people are communicating with God, their motivations are quite clear. The film obviously never really gives us a perspective outside of the family, but I was so engaged that I didn't really need one. The whole family has been seduced by evil.

The big issue that I have with the film is that you can see the ending coming. When the big twist is unveiled its not as surprising as you would probably hope, but it doesn't make it any less believable. The film still ends fairly strongly. While not a perfect film I do think that Frailty is an overlooked film that deserves another look from people who may have forgotten about it. It really is a shame that Paxton didn't get a chance to experiment more with filmmaking.

Frailty gets 73 out of 100.


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