"Wrecked" confidently follows the lead of 2010's "127 Hours
" and "Buried
," two recent films that have trapped a single character in a precarious, death-defying situation and watched to see if and how they are able to escape with their lives. If "127 Hours
," set in a canyon enclave, used its intimate premise to focus on the psychological ramifications of such an ordeal and "Buried
," set entirely in a wooden coffin, was more interested in the here-and-now of whether or not its protagonist would find help in time, "Wrecked" uses a bit of both storytelling angles. Starring Adrien Brody (2010's "Predators
") as a man who narrowly survives a fatal car crash but is trapped inside the mangled vehicle with no one around to hear his pleas for assistance, the film is an actor's showcase that places him front and centerand with precious few other performers to play off offor ninety minutes. For first-time director Michael Greenspan, it also stands as a future calling card to show just how much intrigue and audience involvement he can rile up with such a minimalist plot.
Adrien Brody's character, billed only as "Man" in the credits, doesn't remember who he is or how he got in his current predicament. All he knows is that he has been in an awful car accident that has killed all of the other passengers. Unable to open the passenger side door, his legs stuck under the gnarled dashboard, he sits there practically helpless in the midst of a desolate, mountainous forest. As the days pass by, he decides that the only person able to save him is himself, and sets out to do whatever possible to reach civilization. When he happens to hear on the radio about a local search for a group of bank robbers, he starts to piece things together without really knowing for sure his role in the crime. Even if he gets out alive, he still probably won't be out of the woods, so to speak.
As a situational thriller, "Wrecked" enthralls for the length of its running time. Little details used as foreshadowing to the man's pasta receipt, a woman (Caroline Dhavernas) who keeps showing up in his hallucinations, the use of Tiny Tim's shiver-inducing "Tip Toe Through the Tulips" on the static-heavy car radiodon't really reveal themselves as such until the end when the man's memory comes into focus. Because the viewer doesn't know who he is for so long, and only really gets a snippet of information by the climax, Adrien Brody is called upon to capture our sympathies despite playing such a thinly drawn character. There might have been more depth and, by extension, more emotion had the film not been set up so stringently as a mystery. Still, as an exercise detailing the lengths a person will go to survive, the film is an effectively modulated potboiler (and well-shot, too, by cinematographer James Liston). The use of a dog that might be an orphaned canine prowling the forest, a figment of his imagination, or maybe even the man's very guardian angel is left tantalizingly open to interpretation. It's the picture's most provocative little flourish.