This is the first installment of Taylor’s “Final [Film] Countdown of 2017,” in which he rushes to watch as many good movies from 2017 as possible before the year’s Oscars ceremony.
Good Time isn’t a misnomer for a title, though “good” feels like the wrong word for it. It’s a tightly-wound, often-frenetic film, taking place over the course of a single night. Constantine and his brother rob a bank, only to get caught by the police. When his brother goes to jail, Constantine tries to raise the $10,000 necessary for his bail bond, going to increasingly desperate lengths.
The story goes to some unexpected places from there, with some genuinely surprising twists. I expected perhaps a bit more from the film’s final act, which goes out on a slight anticlimax given the thrilling nature of the rest of the movie. But Robert Pattinson does incredible work as Constantine throughout the film, and the rest of the film’s supporting cast–including Captain Phillips standout Barkhad Abdi–is pretty uniformly great.
Directors Ben and Josh Safdie have a strong sense of style but occasionally overuse it–during the first 10 minutes, in particular, I kept desperately wishing they would film in anything other than close-ups–but the style works increasingly as Constantine grows more desperate. The editing and music do a lot of heavy lifting to keep the story taut and gripping.
As far as what this movie’s in service of… I have a loose grip but I wish I knew more. Constantine discusses his destiny and feels fated to this path, but the movie’s final scene seems to undermine his arguments, presenting a case that everything that happens is a choice. The movie’s final scenes almost reflect the damage of unhindered free will, even as Constantine tries to assert that fate forced him to do it. Granted, this theme feels weakly supported by the film itself, but given the film’s taut nature, it may not have had time for much soul-searching.
Overall, I enjoyed Good Time, but I don’t think its absence from this year’s Academy Awards is any sort of grave snub.
Best Part: Robert Pattinson.
Worst Part: The first 10 minutes of directing. Maybe Jennifer Jason Leigh.