FRAILTY

4 Stars
Year Released: 2002
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 100 minutes
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Like a blistering Peach that’s rotten to the core, Bill Paxton’s “Frailty” is so immodestly unripe; yet so horrendously tempting you’ll find it hard to resist. An imperceptive combination of the morbid supernatural and kinship, Paxton’s directorial debut is a hot-acid concoction of thrills, spills, trepidation, and one of the most novel stories of recent times.
Like a no-holds barred “X Files” sneaking under the radar, Paxton’s film may have missed it’s ride on the blockbuster film conveyer belt, but it enters, via an alternative route to surprise the dilettante with it’s sheer ingenious and uniqueness.
It’s present day Texas and a murderer – simply known as ‘God’s Hands’ – is on the loose. Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey) enters a police station, claiming he knows who the killer is. Unresponsive until a deplorable confession that the killer is actually Fenton’s brother Adam, FBI agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe) is treated to a cycle of stories of how Fenton’s suspect brother came to be.
Their father (the character is simply credited as ‘Dad’), then widowed, seems level headed enough until he reveals a disquieting secret. He tells his panicky children that he has been visited by an angel and given a mission to destroy “demons” – seemingly normal looking people, who walked this earth as unpolluted wickedness. Whilst Fenton is very reluctant to help his homicidal Dad on his death mission, younger brother Adam stands by his father feeling he is playing a part in ridding the world of demons. But has Dad roped his children into killing off innocent people purely because his screw’s a bit loose? Or are greater forces at play here?
By the time modern-day Fenton has finished explaining his story to Agent Doyle, you too will know the real truth behind this melancholic family of three. You will know the twists, you will know the underlying truth and you will know the fate of those that still take in air today.
Brent Hantley has written one of the year’s best movies. It’s eloquently real, and freakishly believable. As the sadistic father, Paxton is a marvel. It’s a pity the actor has to direct a movie before he is given the kind of part he can really play the pants off. McConaughey is also fantastic as Fenton Meiks, a squalid young man with more skeletons in his closet than Michæl Jackson’s basement. As the young Fenton Meiks, newcomer Matt Leary (Domestic Disturbance) revels in his part as the confused child forced to choose between what is right and loyalty to kin, providing great support to the two hardwearing leads.
Some actors should stick to acting; some directors should stick to Directing. But Bill Paxton proves he can do both by combining a terrifyingly real performance while doing double time on a movie as its director. If Paxton’s acting career should give way overnight, I insist he toy with the lense a little further.
While filmmakers like M.Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) may have reinvented the supernatural brainteaser, filmmakers like Bill Paxton and writer Brent Hantey are adding veracity and improvement to a genre that might otherwise disappear more rapidly than a flea down a basin.



Posted on April 12, 2002 in Reviews by
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