Andrew is inactive’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is just... what it's like to live in America in 2020.
At this point we're pretty much just watching the decline of an empire in real-time, what we're seeing now is merely the culmination of 19 years of forever wars and the slow rise of fascism right under the clueless neoliberal elites. Richard Kelly was much too early in his predictions of course, for 2008 this all seems pretty over the top, but now even the most absurd concepts seem like they could happen tomorrow and it'd just be normal.
The constant references to the Book of Revelation of course add to the heightened tone. In a more serious apocalyptic film these would come off as heavy-handed, but here they merely add to the absurdity on display. I'm sure that after enough rewatches I'll be better able to unpack this film. Attempting to digest Southland Tales as one would a more standard narrative will only lead to frustration. It is better to simply embrace the chaos as it happens and put together the pieces as you go. It's the kind of storytelling I appreciate when done well, a puzzle that requires complete engagement to put together, and which reveals more depth the more it is revisited.
The actors here all understand exactly what kind of movie they are in, and give performances that are just over the top enough to be heightened without becoming insufferable. Personal favorites are of course The Rock in probably his most unique performance, Justin Timberlake, complete with a random musical sequence, and a cameo from the Highlander himself, Christopher Lambert.
A fascinating case study into exactly what went wrong with this country, and dare I say, The End of Evangelion for America.