Pacts you’ve made with friends, sealed in blood are probably best forgotten. Since they are most likely forged before one’s frontal cortex is fully functional, they may contain promises to do things that your older self may realize is a bad plan. Youthful promises, like agreeing to meet for an annual reunion with college buddies can be a great escape from your daily grind. But when that group of buddies, is the type of guys to take a questionable blood oath in their college days, it seems inevitable that after 25 years the reunion will eventually evolve into debauchery and despair, which this one does.
Richard (Thomas Jane) purchases a Porsche he plans on destroying during the week to escape his life as a high school English teacher. He dreamed of life as a writer and earned some early success. Ron (Jeremy Piven), who earned the nickname Rat Ron in college for questionable concert ticket dealings finds his seemingly perfect suburban investment banker life crumbling as he leaves for the trip. Jonathon (Rob Lowe), crushed by his divorce, brings a bag full of pills scammed from his private practice of writing prescriptions for busy career women. Tim (Christian McKay) wanders into the vacation home to the find Richard blasting music so loudly that it makes the film audience crouch down in their seats, but Tim’s angst cannot be penetrated.
The partying commences with liquor and pills and we soon learn that nothing is out of bounds. These four are trying so hard to forget the lives they have created, that it is painful to watch. Immediately, a viewer may find themselves thinking–even on my worst day, I wouldn’t go there. Mark Pellington’s direction is tiresome. It is tiresome, because it is just the same actions over and over, and annoying because the sound levels in this film are terrible from a production standpoint. The music being played is so loud it is physically painful for the audience. The few bits of conversation, which may or may not have been important to the story, are completely inaudible. It is not clear if that is a production problem, or an ear assault recovery issue. As audience members began to leave the theatre less than half way through it was difficult to determine if this action was because of the unbearable music or because of this film is tortuous for so many other reasons.
So much time in this film is spent on party scenes that we barely see glimpses of Richard, Ron and Jonathon’s lives, yet it easy to understand why they would want to escape them. But we don’t see any of Tim’s life. We only learn that he was happy with it, until it was torn from him by tragedy. It comes as no surprise that Tim is the one to invoke the pact.
Expectations were high given the actors in this film. It seems well cast with Piven for smarm, Lowe for once charming/now broken, Jane for downtrodden, and McKay for comatose. The seaside location makes for some beautiful and haunting shots, but neither the cast nor the landscape can save this film from its assaulting direction and tired screenplay.
Run time: 116 minutes of your life that you can never get back. Rated: R