Director: Chris Evans
Runtime: 89 minutes
Warning: This review is spoiler-y.
Before We Go marks the directorial debut for this film’s leading man, Chris Evans. Evans is best known now for his performances as Captain America, an extraordinary human who struggles with the expectations of being a hero for the world. In this film, Evans plays Nick Vaughan, an ordinary human who spends the length of the film determined to play the hero for a stranger. Vaughan gets to distract himself from his problems by helping Brooke Dalton (played by Alice Eve) find her stolen purse and get her back to Boston by 7am (she had just missed her 1:30 AM train). Our would-be-White Knight almost seems determined to force this stranger into a Damsel-in-Distress role to fill up the empty hole in his life (if just for one night).
Of course, the real point of this adventure is to bring these two very attractive people and lost souls together. Can two strangers meet in the middle of the night in New York City, try to fix their immediate problems, and then see if they can fix themselves along the way? (If that sounds obnoxious on paper, just wait until you see it play out on the screen.)
The success of the film is dependent upon how convincingly Evans’ Vaughan and Eve’s Dalton can fall for each other. Evans does a very admirable job for a while as a man that is blindly determined to play the part of the hero when he knows he is no hero. Yet he struggles later on to elicit much sympathy when he reveals the mistakes of his past to Dalton that have caused him to feel so emotionally lost.
Dalton is wisely skeptical of his intentions for a while but eventually opens herself up to him. She discusses the concept of “dépaysement” (the feeling that you don’t belong) for the reason why she gave up a career in London to be where she is now. That concept also sadly applies to Eve’s acting in the film. She never settles into a groove or feel like she like truly becomes the character. Eve knows all the steps of Brooke Dalton’s dance but has no rhythm to make the character come alive.
The lack of buy-in on our protagonists’ connection puts the first-time director in a situation where he can only fail. Evans shows some potential at least, as he manages to capture how ordinary New York City can look most of the time in a way that gives the film instant credibility. That credibility is sadly wasted on a script not worthy of the look of the film.
The script, hell-bent on convincing us these two are somehow just what they need for each other, is so heavy-handed after a certain point you almost wonder if there was a scene left on the cutting room floor where one character hammers in a nail perfectly. Instead, we are treated to moments like Brooke staring dramatically into a mirror and asking herself, “What are you doing?” and an ironic journey to a “Psychic Advisor” only to discover that the proprietor actually has some wisdom for them that help them on their emotional quests. By the time they near their resolution, you may become skeptical of your own experiences of falling in love because of how fake their journey seems.
The film starts off with Brooke Dalton missing a 1:30 AM train which kicks off an all-night adventure. While she probably feels missing that train was a blessing in disguise by the end of this journey, viewers could have saved themselves ninety minutes if she had just managed to catch it.
This film is available on VOD and iTunes. It will have a limited theatrical release starting on September 4, 2015.