Decent in small doses, but it spins its wheels almost immediately, repeating the same point, in the same type of scene, with the same tension arc, over and over. It also introduces some unfortunately laughable elements into a gritty story, adding to the feeling of it being an unfunny comedy sketch stretched to 90 minutes.
I haven’t been this divided on a movie in a long time: it’s a unique, brave, often beautiful, nutty psychological horror with no easy answers. However it can also be seen as an incoherent jumbled mess, full of scenes that never should’ve made it in. When it’s good, it’s more that it’s fascinating, like an alien artifact; when it’s bad, it unfortunately invites snickering at the wacko acting and silly dialogue. I’m glad it exists, but I won’t be recommending it around.
It's as good an action/sci-fi movie as has ever been made, and on top of it, it's a subversive, complex, yet highly entertaining examination of the cost of social order. It has held up beautifully over the past 15 years, and in retrospect, it's one of the best movies of the 1990s.
It's perfectly fine for a movie to have an elusive core, to not be about anything in particular. But when that is the case, it should at least populate the screen with enough varied ideas to invite engagement. The Master is a claustrophobic, one-track tale(?) and so the overwhelming emotions it invokes are befuddlement and, often, boredom.
The titular Master is very mildly based on Scientology's L. Ron Hubbard, and references that spell this out do the movie no favors,…