John Bleasdale Reviews

Film Review: The Chamber


★★☆☆☆

Not to be confused with the John Grisham adaptation of the same name, The Chamber is a claustro-thriller which hits its beats with enervating predictability. Mats (Johannes Kuhnke) is in charge of a dinky submersible which is commandeered by a Special Ops team led by Red (Charlotte Salt). She’s accompanied by a wiry nervy type who could easily have been called Brains (he’s actually called Holmes, played by Elliott Levey) and his obnoxious colleague Brawn (James McArdle). The British actors all play Americans, risking Samuel L. Jackson’s ire.

The stakes are high as news clips have set up that the world is in crisis and North Korea is rattling the sabre. The submersible Aurora will penetrate the waters of the belligerent dictatorship on an unrevealed mission. Why the mission is unrevealed is unclear as it turns out to be as routine as the film itself. The mission goes a bit awry and the crew now must fight for their lives. Although first time director Ben Parker does his best to imbue proceedings with a sense of dread and claustrophobia – aided by an atmospheric score by James Dean Bradfield of the Manic Street Preachers – the characters never escape their stereotypes and the Aurora herself has no real presence, never truly feeling like a worked in space rather than a studio set. This is vital.

The u-boat of Das Boot and even Ryan Reynolds’ coffin in Buried have a degree of character, but the Aurora just feels like an anonymous medium sized room with bits of tech stapled to the walls. The plot moves through a series of problems and dilemmas, most of which are created by the teams own precipitous and poor decision-making and eventual in-fighting. Chronically, there’s also a lack of any humour, which might have given some b-movie fizz to proceedings. Other than a sinking feeling, there’s not much else The Chamber is going to give you.

John Bleasdale | @drjonty