Eric Silvera and Sean Kenealy in In Action (Photo: Gravitas Ventures)
★★½ (out of four)
DIRECTED BY Sean Kenealy & Eric Silvera
STARS Sean Kenealy, Eric Silvera
It turns out that A Gimmick to Film a Movie Over Some Weekends with No Money isn’t so much the subtitle of In Action as it’s a challenge to its own creators. Basically a two-man show, this largely action-free action flick is the brainchild of co-writers, co-directors, and co-stars Sean Kenealy and Eric Silvera. The pair are on screen for practically the entire picture, and the only times they’re not in front of the camera are when they’re substituting live-action with animation or toy figures to carry them over what would have been expensive set-pieces. Hey, when your movie costs a Kickstarter-raised $22,000 rather than a studio-backed $220 million, ya gotta make concessions somewhere.
Sean and Eric play Sean and Eric, two former classmates who bump into each other five years later at a party. It’s clear they were never exactly the best of buddies, and their previous attempt to collaborate on a screenplay went nowhere. But Sean, a whiny stay-at-home dad, and the more acerbic Eric, a profane ad exec, decide to give it another shot, particularly since they’ve learned that a no-talent acquaintance has already sold three scripts.
With the upcoming wedding of the U.S. President’s daughter in the news, Sean and Eric elect to write a movie in which terrorists take over a wedding. After days of sending each other e-mails discussing terrorist plots and on the heels of their extensive Internet research on how to build bombs, they’re abducted by rogue government agents who would like to use the would-be screenwriters’ scribbles for their own insurrectionist scheme.
In Action takes an awfully long time getting out of the gate, thanks largely to its makers’ desire to follow dude-bro protocol. Kenealy and Silvera both deliver amusing performances, but the juvenile bickering between their characters (particularly of the “You shut up!” “No, you shut up!” mode) often becomes wearying. Furthermore, there’s a pronounced — and inexplicable — emphasis on poop (both discussing it and producing it). But once the story line surrounding the kidnapping takes center stage, the movie improves substantially, with some minor tension in the duo’s encounters with their captors as well as some clever plotting involving their efforts to escape. The film discussions also provide some modest amusement: The picture opens with an argument over Hostel 3, and Bruce’s Die Hard and Arnie’s Commando earn shout-outs in later scenes.
Technically, In Action is skillfully put together, belying its low-budget origins. The sequence with the toy figures looks cheap (doubtless deliberately so), but the animated scene is slick and polished, and there’s even another bit that utilizes storyboards. The entire look of the film is minimal, sometimes absurdly so — a party is suggested by simply placing a table in a room corner. Overall, though, Kenealy and Silvera get the job done. In Action may not look like the proverbial million bucks, but with the $22,000 at their disposal, the filmmakers impressively put their money where their movie is.
(In Action is available on Amazon Prime, Fandango Now, Vudu and other streaming platforms.)