Directed by Charles Mawungwa | Review by Panchali KarMind Games, directed by Charles Mawungwa, had all the potential of being a breathtaking movie till three fourth of its duration. However, as the saying goes: too many cooks spoil the broth. The plot became predictable with too many twists and turns. The film hits high notes with two mind wrenching murder sequences in the very beginning, inducing a sense of mystery in the audience. Soon, everything shifts to Sam, who’s a successful businessman, divorced and has a beautiful daughter with his ex-wife, who he meets on the weekends, and loves more than anything in the world. Sam’s girlfriend dislikes his connection with his daughter, so does his ex-wife. Things turn topsy-turvy when Sam is taken hostage by a shrewd murderer, who identifies himself as Ex.
The man tells Sam that he’s taken his daughter hostage and shall leave her if Sam follows his instructions. Ex makes Sam do bizarre things, confess some of his criminal activities, and his role in his son’s death. After, the audience is hit with the big twist that’s at the same time amusing but also predictable. It’s not predictable storywise (although some viewers might figure out that element as well), but more in the terms of the overall mood. We had so many films of this kind that our brain somehow learned what emotion to accept. We can say our brains finally learned to expect the old Chekhov’s Gun… at least to a certain extent.
Mysteries unfold one after another raising the expectation of the audience, and ultimately ending up in a predictable pattern of two geniuses playing mind games with each other.
The movie is simple, realistic, and efficient. It does not grab your immediate attention with overwhelming sound, light, set; which is the 101 list for many crime thrillers; a cold blue tone, drony, deep music & you got yourself a thriller. The places and events are more like what we see in real life, and this toned down mise-en-scene is the strongest element of the film. Very well crafted realistic art direction, subtle background score, realistic light adds up to the storytelling.
The direction is decent, until the point the film falls in the redundant trap of repeated attempts for the two main characters to check-mate one another. That is where the film stops being a ‘mind game’. The editing could have been a lot crisper. As far as the performance goes, most actors play their role really well, except for the fact that the protagonist did not live up to the mark. But then again, that’s as much up to the actor as it is to the creator of the character. His expressions and dialogue delivery didn’t have variations through the mountains of emotions; from fear to anger, to anxiety, to hatred, to revengeful attitude, which his character was subjected to. The other actors however delivered their best shots. The child actors do deserve a special mention.
Overall, Mind Games is certainly a film to check out as it provides enough, just not more than that.
Panchali Kar is a Dancer, Choreographer, Actor and Filmmaker. In addition, Panchali is a devout advocate for egalitarian social change, is affiliated with the NGO, Responsible Charity and currently working on a photo documentary on LGBT rights. She is an avid scholar and veteran of the performing arts and a seasoned instructor. Panchali maintains several degrees in the Arts including a M.Mus degree.