Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Mary: Gary Oldman Skippers Her as Best He Can

On paper, this evil boat should be way scarier than Christine, because her passengers will be stranded by the open water. They can’t try to dive out a window and run for a narrow alleyway. They must remain on the high seas until they reach port. Unfortunately, that does not seem likely to happen for everyone, judging from the if-I-had-but-known in media res prologue to Michael Goi’s Mary, which releases today on DVD.

David is tired of sailing other people’s charter boats. He longs to be his own skipper, but he cannot afford a tourist-worthy boat—or so he thought until he spied the Mary, an old but seaworthy German sail boat, with a rather evil looking masthead, now up for auction after the Coast Guard found her abandoned. With the help of his sidekick-first mate Mike, they will refurbish her and go into business for themselves. David’s wife Sarah is a bit skeptical, but she does not have much standing to argue since her husband forgave her infidelity.

The restoration is quick and uneventful in movie time, so David and family logical decide to celebrate with a maiden voyage through the Bermuda Triangle. Good call. Of course, as soon as they are far enough out in international waters, Mary starts messing with their heads, especially that of their youngest, ominously also named Mary.

Goi has a terrific cast at his disposal, but he uses them just enough to keep diehard horror fans from walking out, switching the channel, or falling asleep. Weirdly, it is rather interesting to watch Gary Oldman play an average, everyday guy. He and Emily Mortimer are pretty believable as the loving couple under extraordinary stress. Manuel Garcia-Rulfo also goes crazy pretty convincingly as Mike. However, Jennifer Esposito is just hopelessly wasted as Det. Clarkson, who conducts the framing interrogation with a complete lack of intuition.

Perhaps the biggest problem for Mary is it arrives in the wild and rollicking wake of Rob Grant’s Harpoon, which served up far cleverer and substantially more entertaining bloody high seas mayhem. Mary just looks pale and wan in comparison. Regardless, it has one huge, gaping logical in its narrative. Sailors are notoriously superstitious, so it is almost impossible to believe David would blithely bid on Mary without doing due diligence on her prominence. Instead, he waits until they are halfway to Bermuda to crack open the envelop chronicling the string of past owners who have gone missing at sea. Sorry, just can’t buy it.

So maybe Mary is dumb in some ways, but it isn’t terrible. It just isn’t good enough, especially when Harpoon is readily available. Strictly a time killer for detox weekends, Mary releases today on DVD.