Brandon Streussnig’s review published on Letterboxd:
Super quick thoughts: super obvious, often blunt script with real clunky dialogue but it works because of how unbelievably bizarre it is. I want filmmakers to swing for the fences and when it’s someone as masterful as Ang Lee, even better.
The high frame rate makes for a hypnotic, often surreal experience. But I really dug it. It didn’t fully work in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk but I think Lee has almost perfected it here. It’s jarring but arresting all the same. The film is absolutely stunning to look at and the HFR makes for some truly spellbinding action.
The only drawback to HFR is that it’s so clear and heightened that you can often see the actors giving the performance. I’m not really sure how else to put it but it’s almost like you can see the thought behind the emotion if that makes any sense.
That makes for every performance to appear as if it’s deliberately stilted or slow. But I think that works here because at the end of the day, this is a profoundly melancholic film from a filmmaker and star who are both reckoning with obsolescence. The script isn’t good enough to get us all the way there but I found something so honest and sad about Will Smith’s performances.
I don’t know. This movie deserves a better script. And the actors even more so. Mary Elizabeth Winstead rules as usual and gives the most natural performance in HFR but her character is so underwritten. But I want more big budgeted, experimental films. I want audiences and critics to be a little less dismissive of master filmmakers trying out new shit.
I don’t think this will hold up or be re-evaluated as a legitimately great movie like Lee’s Hulk in ten years but it’s so much better than its being given credit for. Much better. Lee is one of our finest and most human filmmakers. It’s his vision that elevates this gorgeously contemplative film.