Beast of Burden is advertised as a ‘nerve-shredding, heart-pounding thriller’ but failed to deliver, instead offering a snooze-fest with cool music. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) and is directed by Jesper Ganslandt (Blondie) and focuses on the journey of a Drug Mule for a Mexican Cartel Sean as he files over the US border. However, he’s been working with DEA and his wife is kidnapped by the cartel. Sean must face a decision placed in real time during his flight, the law, or the cartel.
Safe to say, I did not particularly enjoy this film. For one, the majority of the film takes place in the plane as Radcliffe struggles with his decision to be a drug mule as he fields phone-calls from all sides. There was never really a sense of a thriller in this format because nothing really happened. There were no serious problems with the plane and the dialogue was not amazing. The problems his faces as home are not well explained or shown and the ‘threats’ he faces in the air are not really threats at all. Another thing that irked me was how many times he called his wife or she called him. The film is meant to take place in real time (around an hour and 20 minutes), and it’s so unrealistic to me that and his wife called each other like 12 times.
I love Radcliffe as a child of the Harry Potter franchise, but his acting and the acting of the other members of the cast was sub-bar. Radcliffe is supposed to carry the film as the focus is mainly on him in his plane. But with his shoddy American accent and lacklustre performance, you never connect emotionally with Sean or the struggle which he is going through. The film lacked true emotion, and when it finished there was a big emotional flop which left me wanting so much more.
The film seemed like it added scenes, specially the flashbacks for no reason except to add length. Many of the flashback scenes could be very easily explained with a word or two in one of the many phone calls that occur throughout the film. I did although like that it took the viewer out of the plane for a few moments as it was desperately needed.
Another problem I found with the film was the ending. It seemed like too much of an easy fix than real-life is and it totally lacked any thrill or emotion. It was very plain in what was supposed to be a ‘nail-biting’ experience and the dialogue was lacklustre. Dialogue was a huge problem in this film for me. With the basis of phone calls as the direction that 90% of the speaking takes, the director really could have played with it a bit more and created something closer to the 2012 drama Locke that shares many similarities with this film. But instead he created a form of dialogue that jumped around and was not precise or emotionally moving.
Now the positives. First, the cinematography was pretty alright in places. As the film takes place mostly in the cockpit of a tiny plane, the best shots are of the clouds or an approaching storm, there are some pretty cool shots at the end of the film in the sunset/sunrise. Secondly, the music. The music was really really good, and I found it added the emotion that I craved in watching this film.
Overall, Beast of Burden was a pretty boring film. With no real thrill or emotion, shoddy acting and a pretty basic plot, the only Burden is wanting so much more from it.