As a police officer investigates the death of his partner, the case exposes disturbing police corruption along with a dangerous secret that leads him to a troubled young woman. Also starring Christopher McDonald (Happy Gilmore), Big Daddy Kane (Blade: Trinity), and Laura Gómez (Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black").
'Exposed' is definitely one of the strangest movies I've ever watched. It conceivably could've been an interesting psychological thriller if it were in the hands of an esoteric, accomplished director like David Lynch. It has weirdness to it; a disjointed feel that could've worked in the hands of an auteur. Unfortunately, that's not the case here. For however much ambition 'Exposed' has, it fails itself.
There are so many disparate storylines going on here, all jumbled up without any sort of flow or reasoning. I'm only guessing, but I'd say the main story is a police procedural. Detective Galban (Keanu Reeves) is investigating the death of his partner. A partner most people hated, knew was a dirty cop, and wasn't a great dude. However, his police brethren feel a duty to find his killer. Then there's a story about devout believer Isabel de La Cruz (Ana de Armas) who sees albino specters floating above subway platforms. Isabel's husband is a soldier currently stationed in Iraq. She's close with his family. Another spin-off story involves her brother-in-law Rocky (Gabe Vargas) who is fresh out of prison and the nefarious characters he runs around with.
Whatever link these three stories may have is so metaphorical that it might not even exist. The stories slam up against each other with such incongruent tones that it feels like three movies jostling for place inside a cramped room.
The biggest problem here is that director Declan Dale is unable to harness the peculiarities of the story and string them out through the narrative. When Isabel is confronted with real or imagined ghosts it's quite striking. Yet whatever suspense or dread that was built during those scenes is quickly washed away as the movie cuts to another seemingly unrelated story with an incompatible tenor.
Take for example Lynch's masterful 'Muholland Dr.' The narrative is scattered, but Lynch pulls the whole movie together with an unrelenting dread that persists throughout the movie. This feeling that something's not quite right. It constantly keeps us on edge, anticipating the worst.
'Exposed' betrays itself. It's never able to harness its mysteries and bottle them up into a driving force for the narrative. It doesn't help that Keanu Reeves – the lone recognizable face in the movie – is cruising along seemingly on actor auto-pilot. Though to be fair there just isn't much for him to do in this movie. Too much time is spent following around the wrong characters. Rocky siphons time away from Reeves' character, leaving him a hollow caricature of a police detective.
One wonders what could have been with 'Exposed.' There's a kernel of something there that was just never fully realized. The story never catches fire because it's being pulled in so many directions. The screenplay never settles on a solid foundation because it's constantly under construction. Any time you feel like you have a grasp on what's going on there's a hard cut to another storyline. It's frustrating and nearly impossible to try and piece together each story and how they relate to one another.
The ending, more or less, spells out the crux of the matter. It's a decent surprise, but you've been so busy trying to stay with the movie up until this point that there's little chance you'll be invested in the ending enough to care.
'Exposed,' – side note: that title is a complete mystery to me – had the chance to be a diamond in the rough. The ingredients were there. Reeves is in somewhat of a renaissance after 'John Wick,' and Ana de Armas accompanied him in that other psychological thriller 'Knock Knock.' It has some of the pieces necessary for a mind-bending paranormal psychological thriller, but sadly this puzzle is missing the most crucial ones.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a single-disc release. Lionsgate has provided a lone 50GB Blu-ray. A digital code copy is also included.
'Exposed' sports a fine, if unmemorable 1080p presentation. It's solid all the way around, but there's nothing about it that will make you jump for joy.
Detail is strong. Facial features are resolute. Black areas are nicely rendered. I didn't see much banding (some is visible in darker areas like the subway scene at the beginning), which is usually a problem in these lower-budget releases. Shadows avoided crushing detail. Aliasing wasn't seen.
The bright pops of red were nice and seemed to jump off the screen. Contrast was also quite firm. I didn't notice any egregious anomalies that might distract one's viewing pleasure. There's not much else to say about this movie. It is what it is. The cinematography is bland at best. The color palette is flat. Depth is slightly undercooked. Skin tones are a little pale. That's about it.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is just as unassuming as the video. Though there are some problems here that need to be addressed.
There is some bad ADR present in a couple spots where the dialogue has not been matched up with the lips of the actor. You can tell it's an ADR problem because after the offending line of dialogue the sound is back in sync. I'm unsure if the film was this way when it was originally released in theaters, but it's quite noticeable here.
ADR issues aside the rest of the mix is solid. Dialogue is clear. Surround channels are somewhat lively, providing music and ambient noise of New York. LFE crops up during club scenes and also during Isabel's spooky visions. Again, nothing that's too impressive, but passable.
Making 'Exposed' (HD, 12 min.) - A lot of promotional interviews with cast explaining the movie, along with scenes from the movie spliced in.
Interviews (HD, 29 min.) - These are individual interviews from each of the main cast members. These are the same interviews that were used in the making-of featurette, but just expanded a bit.
'Exposed' had promise, but it ultimately falls on its face. It lacks any sort of cohesive tone. Had that been mastered, the rest of the movie's dissimilar storylines may have meshed better. The video presentation is good. The audio has some problems. You'd be OK if you skipped this one altogether.