Directed by Mora Stephens.
Starring Patrick Wilson, Ray Winstone, Lena Headey, Richard Dreyfuss, John Cho, Alexandra Breckenridge, Christopher McDonald and Dianna Agron.
A successful family man with a blossoming political career loses all sense of morality when he becomes addicted to using an escort agency.
Thankfully changed from its original title of Zipper, Reckless is the type of film you’ve seen dozens of times before with titles such as Shame, Indecent Proposal or even Fatal Attraction (although that one goes off in another direction but the core story shares many themes) and that will be the one thing that will stop this film being bigger than it probably should be because, despite it holding very few surprises, it is actually a fairly well put together drama with a central story that most viewing audiences could relate to, albeit one with a few flaws.
Patrick Wilson (Watchmen/Insidious) plays Sam Ellis, an up-and-coming prosecution lawyer with his sights set on a political career. Sam is happily married to Jeannie (Lena Headey – Game of Thrones) and together with their son they paint the portrait of an idyllic and successful family, but after refusing a kiss with his sexy young intern Dalia (Dianna Agron – Glee) Sam turns to the internet to vent his pent-up sexual desires. One thing leads to another and Sam eventually gives in to temptation and books a hotel to meet with an escort from an online agency. As his public profile is being boosted for bigger and better things, Sam secretly continues to feed his addiction for escorts but when the agency becomes the target of a federal investigation his world starts to crumble around him.
Pretty standard political thriller stuff and the story is probably the weakest element here, although the casting of Ray Winstone as journalist Nigel Coaker is an odd one as he isn’t the first actor to spring to mind for the part (and is most likely the first one to have said “Yes” for such an unforgiving role) and Richard Dreyfuss doesn’t really scream ‘Washington political fixer’ at you, although he does have a nice line in coats and jackets that are way too big for him. Patrick Wilson is a pretty engaging lead here, his good looks and air of confidence giving Sam Ellis the necessary qualities he needs, but it must be noted that in the beginning of the film when Dalia turns her attentions to him he pushes her away, clearly dedicated to his wife and not wanting to spoil his marriage. In this instance Sam is not a bad guy but somebody who clearly wants to do the right thing, and only when he becomes involved with looking at the online ads does his addiction take over, making him a conflicted character. This is where the script needed to step up and spend a little time developing his obsession instead of him being a clean-cut family guy one minute and a raging sexaholic the next. The scene where Sam meets Christy (Alexandra Breckenridge – The Walking Dead) at the hotel for the first time is one of the best in the film, with Sam’s honest(ish) naivety and Christy’s reassuring charm creating a situation that should be sleazy and dirty given the character types but it feels almost romantic by comparison, the performances by both actors selling it completely.
Of course, in reality the situation that Sam finds himself in is anything but romantic as he digs himself deeper into a hole by not being able to control himself and risking his life to get to a potential meeting in a scene that should have been more pivotal than it was, and by the third act of the film we are shifting focus slightly and concentrating on Jeannie and the effect that Sam’s actions will have on her. This is where the writing picks up a little bit and Lena Headey almost becomes the star of the film as she fights for her – and her husband’s – careers. The end result may be a little underwhelming and predictable but Headey leads the film into its final swing with a cool head and confidence that rises above the generic material and makes you wish the whole film had been about the fallout from the potential scandal rather than the sordid acts themselves.
So overall, Reckless is a competent and very watchable drama about flawed characters doing things they shouldn’t be doing and having to face the consequences but the final result isn’t quite as satisfying as the sum of its parts. The main performances from Patrick Wilson and Lena Headey are the reasons to stick with it as they carry the film beautifully and are totally believable as their characters, and there are lots of graphic and steamy sex scenes to keep the voyeurs happy, but ultimately the script is a little flat and doesn’t go anywhere interesting, the supporting actors are either wasted (Dreyfuss) or miscast (Winstone) and the film does have the feel of a slick and expensive TV movie. Worth a look if you’re a fan of sexy thrillers but it is no Basic Instinct when it comes to twists and turns.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★