Friday, April 19, 2013

Disconnect

Jason Bateman, Frank Grillo, Paula Patton, Alexandar Skarsgaard, Jonah Bobo

I had a feeling that Disconnect was going to be similar to 2010's Trust, a movie about online predators that was partially filmed in Michigan, and it is, although the type of predators is different in each - the one bad guy in Trust is a sexual predator preying on young girls online, and in Disconnect, we get a variety of predators. The movie follows three stories that interconnect, and although each one is different, any of them could happen in real life.

Story #1, the main story of the film, follows two teenage punks as they pull tricks on people. They go to a mall and urinate in a used sports drink bottle, and then go to a gym and put the bottle in the fridge where drinks are sold, and watch to see who falls victim to their malicious prank. Ben Boyd (Jonah Bobo, the kid from Crazy Stupid Love) sees them do this and the boys don't like that; they look Ben up on Facebook and find that he goes to their school, and is a bit of a loner, so they decide to make up a female Facebook persona and message him.

Story #2 is between Cindy (Paula Patton) and Derek (Alexander Skarsgard), a married couple whose lives have never been the same since their baby boy died. Cindy is an artist who sells her wares online, and she's found an online support group and, more specifically, one person to talk to on it, since the relationship between her and Derek is strained. Derek, who travels for work, has an online gambling addiction that his wife doesn't know about. When one or both of their identities is stolen, and the money from their accounts drained, they hire an ex-cop, Mike (Frank Grillo), to investigate; Mike happens to be the father of Jason (Colin Ford), one of the boys who is involved with the Facebook prank mentioned above.

Story #3 is about an ambitious newswoman, Nina (Andrea Riseborough), who starts chatting with an 18-year-old, Kyle (Max Thieriot) online in order to draw him out for a story. Kyle lives in a house full of teens where they basically prostitute themselves on the internet for money and/or gifts - although it's their choice, they aren't being forced to do this - and Nina wants to interview him for a story. He agrees, but only if he can be anonymous; after the story airs, however, the FBI wants to raid Kyle's house and get the kids out, and they make Nina cooperate by saying that they will bring legal action against her if she does not.

These stories sometimes interconnect - one of the lawyers that works with Nina is Jason Bateman's character, who is Ben's father - but not always.

The movie started off by setting up these three stories, and showing the reasons why all of the characters were online; Cindy had recently lost her baby boy, and was lonely and in need of support, for example, and Ben was a loner who didn't have many friends at school. I think my favorite story was #3, with Nina and Kyle, because Kyle was choosing this as his "career" of sorts - he wasn't in child slavery or anything like that - and the relationship between them was interesting; I think Kyle actually wanted a romantic relationship with Nina, which would be unethical not only because of their ages (he was around 18, she was about 30-35) but because he was her source for the TV story about his profession.

Yes, see this movie. I really liked how tensions kept building throughout the film and then they all came to a head at the end, although some of the fates of the characters are still left up in the air. With Ben's story, I had a feeling that he would react the way he did once things turned sour, but it was interesting to see how his two tormentors, Jason and his friend, dealt with their guilt in having caused it. My least favorite story was probably Patton and Skarsgard's, though I didn't mind Skarsgard's amount of screen time - he's definitely easy on the eyes! What makes Disconnect so watchable, though, is that these stories are painfully realistic: online bullying goes on every day, and so does identity theft. We spend so much time online these days, too, whether it's for fun or at work, and Disconnect shows us that our online activity always has consequences.

Disconnect is in theaters today, April 19th, and is rated R with a runtime of 115 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.

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