Jeremy Renner grew up in small-town New Hampshire where he developed a love of the performance and theatre. As a youth, he got involved in the Kingstown School of Drama, joining the Children’s Theatre Company in Nashville, the New England Youth Theatre and the Albuquerque Children’s Theatre in New Mexico. After the break-up of his marriage, he attempted to revive the institute in New Hampshire by producing plays with The Kingstown Company of The P.T.A. But early enrollees simply dropped out.
So Renner went solo and became a member of the festival of plays at the Hawaii Shakespeare Company, which led to his contract to star in the Hamlet on film with Peter Sarsgaard, alongside Helen Mirren and Aidan Quinn. The film was an attention-grabber, garnering critical praise and even the effect of Oscars buzz. So it may seem surprising that Renner does not return to Hawaii for this year’s The Minority Report Project, a stage-to-screen hybrid that attempted to do justice to the 2006 Steven Spielberg thriller. While Renner undoubtedly has the intelligence to bring Frank Miller’s graphic novel to the screen, director Michael Cunningham fails to see the point, focusing on the political themes rather than the dramatic thrust of the story.
It may be surprising to say, as a film buff, that it does not rate the full force of a Hammer Horror
Set in 1950s Israel, the film follows characters who converge in the wake of the Kahan (exalted figurehead of the Jewish National Movement)’s defeat of the Canaanites in the epic 1868 Bible battle known as the Masada Siege. It could have been a metaphor for the systematic annihilation of the Jewish people. And while it initially feels like the story is exciting enough, they soon succumb to the Hollywood script and it descends into a frantic, mess of a story, with plotting wobbles and confusing character development. Set pieces are poorly done and this is a part of the world that will appeal most to middle-age Jews, whose enthusiasm for battle films has clearly been damped down by the present reality.
Nonetheless, if you like Jennifer Ehle (who played a member of an Israeli intelligence unit in the Star Wars franchise) as the female lead, Natalie, or it is home to another Modesty Blaise heroine, Sharon, the exploration of Arabic culture remains engaging and pertinent. It may also interest audiences – cinemagoers who have not had a bad experience of The Carmel High Bible Pageant.