Vlogging Without Thought or Reason
by Jansen Musico
D: Josh Trank
S: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan
Chronicle's final showdown happens in downtown Seattle. Andrew (Dane DeHaan), a teenage telekinetic, faces off with the police. He hovers a hundred feet above the ground and circles the observation deck of the Space Needle. He stares maniacally through the tower windows, and with one swift clenching of his fist, he shatters all the glass and takes all the cameras with him. They float around him, capturing his every move, and like a narcissistic madman, he peers into every single one them.
Despite it being marketed as a sci-fi action flick, Chronicle rarely bothers to tackle the science behind the story. Instead, the filmmakers serve up a high school drama about bullying, abuse, and revenge. The film starts off lazily as Andrew turns on his handheld camera, which becomes the viewers’ eyes and ears all throughout the film. Unlike in the Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, and other found-footage films, there is no real possibility of uncovering raw footage of Andrew’s exploits since most of it gets physically destroyed throughout the film. Why then would the filmmakers employ this storytelling technique?
At first, the captured raw footage comes off as a gimmick, a ploy to reel in fans of the movement. The real purpose of its use surfaces within the film’s second act. It’s a commentary on the Youtube generation, how the constant use of recording devices creates a wall between people and how it separates them from reality. This detail is shoved down the viewers’ throats as frequently as the philosophical quotes randomly blurted by the characters. Both serve as foreshadowing mechanisms that set up Chronicle's whirlwind third act.
The film is clearly cut in three parts: beginning, middle, and end. The most enjoyable is the middle one, where the trio starts messing around with their powers. It’s here where we get introduced to the rules that would govern the playing out of the angst-driven final leg. A character mutters, “This is the beginning of your downfall.” Unfortunately, the same is true for the movie.
Chronicle has the makings of being a contemporary take on Brian de Palma’s Carrie. Both have a teenage telekinetic who’s suffering from abuse, and both have a climactic ending, yet Chronicle falls short. First, Carrie's motivation for doing what she does is more believable. She comes across as a victim. Andrew comes across as an arrogant whiner. Chronicle also has one glaring loophole, which could have easily been covered up if Andrew (or the writers, in this case) could have just used a bit of common sense.