Sunday, January 8, 2017

Double Down (2005)

“I can't go on with this. I can't go on with this! I'm an American! I'm an American, I love this country! My country.” – Aaron Brand, Double Down

The growth of the internet over the past two decades has led to major changes in movies.  The most notable change is video streaming, which has brought about YouTube, Amazon Streaming, Netflix, and Shudder as ways to see movies from the comfort of your own home.  But the change that is most relevant to this week’s movie has to do with how connected people are.  The internet has allowed people from around the world to communicate quickly and easily in ways that they never could before.  This has allowed fans of lesser known movies to reach out and find other fans.  Cult movies have amassed bigger followings than ever before.

Neil Breen is one filmmaker who has benefited from the internet.  His reputation for making bad movies has spread through the internet like lice in a kindergarten class.  He is slowly becoming a bad movie god like Tommy Wiseau and Ed Wood before him.  People share his movies and share their love of how bad they are.  From Fateful Findings all the way back to Double Down, the internet has let people seek and discuss his movies, allowing him to become a cult icon.

Double Down, which was written, directed, edited, and catered by Neil Breen, starred Mr. Breen as Aaron Brand, a man who was the best at everything.  He was top of his class in computer science.  He was the best spy in the academy.  He was a great hacker and the most dangerous biological terrorist in the world.  His newest mission was to temporarily shut down the Las Vegas strip.  The only thing standing in his way was the memory of his wife/girlfriend who was killed by a government sniper.

There were a lot of issues with Double Down.  It was a mess of a boring slog.  The first problem was the voiceover.  Neil Breen, at least during this first movie of his, could not properly write voiceover.  There was too much repetition and contradiction.  The entire first twenty minutes consisted of Aaron Brand constantly saying how great he was by repeating what he was good at.  He said he was a great hacker about five or ten times.  The contradictions came when he said things like “I am so alone… But I’m not lonely.”  It might seem picky of me to say this, but adding the “so” implies that you are lonely.  “I am alone” is a statement.  “I am so alone” is a feeling.  It changes the statement to reflect how the person feels about being alone.  Having “But I am not lonely” follow it contradicts that feeling.  This kind of stuff occurred throughout the movie.

Also scattered throughout Double Down were random inserts of B-roll footage.  These inserts didn’t help the story.  The voiceover would be about Aaron Brand feeling betrayed, and then there would be a shot of an eagle looking around that looked like professional nature documentary footage.  When a terrorist attack went down, news footage of a forest fire was inserted.  These unrelated clips were baffling.  They rarely related to the topic of discussion and were glaring runtime padders.

Aaron Brand spent large amounts of time in the Nevada desert as he did his hacker/spy/terrorist stuff.  He climbed rocks to find caches of laptops and cell phones, which he then used to hack into things.  He ran through the desert screaming when his mind began to break.  There were many happenings in the desert for Aaron Brand.  The hacking was a strangely elaborate, yet simple setup.  He would sit in the back seat of his car, or on a bunch of rocks, with laptops spread around him.  He would type on the keyboards without really typing.  At the same time, he would be playing around with flip phones.  This does not seem like an ideal situation.  To keep people from sneaking up on him, Aaron Brand would set up two satellite dishes on the back of his car.  The programming that he put into the dishes would kill anyone who came within a certain range of them.  Except for Aaron Brand, himself.  His top notch hacking skills could factor his own body chemistry into the programming.  That’s the power of a Neil Breen character.

Speaking of powers, no Neil Breen character is complete without some sort of supernatural power.  Aaron Brand believed himself to be a miracle man.  He thought that he could bequeath miracles upon other people, helping them with their problems.  There was a girl with cancer.  He touched her on the forehead and believed that her disease was cured.  He also thought he had miraculously healed a man’s head wound after the man fell down some rocks in the desert.  Sure, in the case of Double Down, Aaron Brand ended up not having special powers.  But the fact that he believed he had them fits into his filmography like it did in Fateful Findings.  Neil Breen loves putting supernatural powers into his movies.

Double Down was the debut film of Neil Breen.  It put him on the map.  It’s tough to find, but people have found a way to obtain a copy and those people have spread the gospel of Breen.  He has become one of the newer big names in bad movie making.  It all began here, with this movie.  Neil Breen switched from being a real estate agent to being a filmmaker and gave the world his vision.  It was a bad vision.  It was an excruciating vision.  It was a vision that could be replaced by paint drying and be more entertaining.  Neil Breen, in his four directed efforts, has left a lasting legacy on the film world.  His cult status is only going to grow as more people find his work.  Neil Breen is a legend.  He is a living legend.  All thanks to the internet.
Thanks to the internet, I can share these notes:

  • Double Down was suggested by @MarceloJPico, who has also suggested Chicks Dig Gay Guys, and Die Another Day.
  • I have covered the movie Fateful Findings, which was mentioned throughout this post.
  • Tommy Wiseau was also mentioned in this post.  He directed The Room.
  • Neil Breen directed and starred in both Double Down and Fateful Findings.
  • Have you seen Double Down?  Have you seen anything by Neil Breen?  What do you think of his filmography?  You can share any of your thoughts in the comments below.
  • The schedule for the Sunday “Bad” Movies could always use suggestions.  If you have any movies that you think I should watch for the blog, go ahead and let me know about them.  You can tell me in the comments or let me know on Twitter.
  • When I’m watching movies for this blog, I sometimes share clips of them on snapchat.  If you want to see that kind of stuff, add me.  Jurassicgriffin.
  • Next week, we move from unpolished bad movies into the world of science fiction musicals that didn’t do so well.  That’s right.  The same year that The Apple came out saw another musical fantasy.  It was called Xanadu.  I’ll get back to you with my thoughts on that one when you return in seven days’ time.

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