At about the halfway point of 'The Power of Few,' increasingly fed up with the film's disjointed and muddled multiple perspective scripting, I took a deep breath and calmly thought to myself, "Just stick with it, maybe all this tiresome nonsense will actually add up to something worthwhile. Maybe, when the dust settles, the seemingly trite characterizations, stilted acting, unengaging storylines, and disconnected ideas will suddenly come together to form a truly eye opening epiphany, shedding entirely new light on all that came before while simultaneously bridging thematic cohesion among the entire endeavor. Maybe a cinematic light bulb will click and it will become clear that the director really knew what he was doing all along." This... does not happen. I really wanted it to, mind you, but it just doesn't. Though there is an inkling of deeper purpose achieved in the film's closing sequences, it's all too little too late, failing to justify the whole wildly uneven ride that gets us there.
Structured in an episodic multi-perspective narrative, the movie focuses on several different characters throughout the span of roughly the same half hour time period. The intersecting stories include a tale about a young man (Devon Gearhart) desperately trying to get medication for his baby brother, a courier (Q'orianka Kilcher) helping out a potential witness (Jesse Bradford) on the run from a duo of gangsters (Anthony Anderson & Juvenile), government agents (Christian Slater & Nicky Whelan) attempting to thwart a terrorist attack, and two homeless men (Christopher Walken & Jordan Prentice) who elude the police while babbling about cloning Jesus… or something. All these divergent stories eventually culminate in a single violent incident involving a grocery heist, drive by shooting, car crash, and the apparent theft of the legendary Shroud of Turin -- but could this tragic outcome somehow be averted?
From the get go, 'The Power of Few' starts off on rather iffy footing. Everything from the obnoxious main title font to the generic, thumping score imply a certain amateur quality. And once the initial vignette begins, one's confidence in the film will likely only be further reduced. By far the worst segment of the movie, the introductory sequence, focused on a son yelling at his neglectful mom for letting her infant child grow increasingly sick, is totally unengaging with forced drama and clunky editing. The piece ends on a violent note, but the brief time we spend with the already unappealing characters doesn't give us anything to invest in, making it hard to care about their fates.
While the remaining episodes are a bit more interesting, they're still plagued by lackluster acting and banal dialogue that tries but utterly fails to be witty and playful. The attempts at flirting between Jesse Bradford and Q'orianka Kilcher's characters are particularly painful. Christian Slater and Anthony Anderson end up turning in the most believable performances, but it often feels more like the actors are going through a dress rehearsal rather than a final shoot. Even Christopher Walken, who has had a string of impressive performances recently, is pretty underwhelming here. In fact, there are times when his trademark kooky vocal rhythms become so labored that it's almost like Walken is deliberately doing a Christopher Walken impersonation. And that's just weird.
While the various vignettes do intersect, the individual situations themselves are muddled and underdeveloped and there are large tonal inconsistencies between them. A misplaced quirkiness and exaggerated offbeat sense of humor comes and goes, but isn't very effective and might leave some viewers simply scratching their heads instead of laughing or being amused (I found this to be especially true of the Christian Slater segment). Likewise, the writer/director's attempts at adding personality to his characters feel strained, thin, and artificial, leading to an ensemble of divergent oddballs that are more irritating than entertaining to watch, and his visual style is entirely derivative of many similar, superior efforts. The script touches upon concepts and plotlines dealing with everything from terrorism, gang violence, the power of time, romance, and a conspiracy involving the cloning of Jesus Christ, but none of these random elements ever really feel connected, despite the filmmakers' attempts to do so.
With that said, the movie's final segment actually does succeed in delivering a marginally interesting twist. Though this revelation doesn't fully rectify or enhance the film's previous inefficiencies and inconsistencies, it does offer a surprisingly thoughtful message. Without giving too much away, the last episode focuses on a little girl called "Few" who might have an unexpectedly significant effect on the intersecting plotlines -- hence the movie's title, 'The Power of Few.' Get it? Cause her name is "Few." Yeah, pretty mindblowing, right? Snarkiness aside, there really is some emotional merit to this sequence, and actress Tione Johnson does a good job of portraying wisdom beyond her years, even if her character's sudden philosophizing is kind of ridiculous. Unfortunately, this emotional high point is soon followed by one last revelation that is seemingly meant to be thought provoking and enlightening by instead leaves absolutely no impression whatsoever.
'The Power of Few' actually does have a solid, ambitious core hidden beneath its many shortcomings, resulting in a lackluster execution of a decent concept. The director attempts to examine ideas related to fate, time, choice, ripple effects, and human connection, but these well intentioned concepts get lost within pedestrian characterizations, clunky directing, and underdeveloped scripting. Instead of the eye-opening experience the filmmakers intended, what we get is a relatively dumb movie that thinks it's much smarter, exciting, and affecting than it is. Few's story ends up being the most absorbing, but it turns out even the power of Few can't quite save 'The Power of Few.'
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Vivdeni Entertainment brings 'The Power of Few' to Blu-ray on a single BD-25 disc housed in a keepcase. After some logos and warnings the disc transitions to a standard menu. The packaging indicates that the release is Region A compatible.
The film is presented in a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The movie features an intentionally desaturated style, but the image has strong detail and a clean appearance.
Outside of some negligible shimmering, the digital source is free from any obtrusive or problematic artifacts. Clarity is often razor sharp revealing impressive fine details in characters and background objects. A solid sense of depth is also present, but dimension can be hindered by the chosen color palette and contrast levels, leading to a flat appearance in several shots. The cinematography favors a dull, desaturated color scheme that lacks pop, and contrast is blown out. Black levels are steady and inky, however, and while the film's aesthetic might not appeal to everyone, it suits the tone of the movie well enough.
'The Power of Few' is a bit of mixed bag when it comes to visuals. On the one hand, detail is very strong, but color and contrast veer toward a drab and harsh appearance. Regardless, the transfer is free from any technical issues and appears to respect the director's objectives.
The movie is provided with an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track along with optional English SDH subtitles. The mix is a little uneven but features a welcome auditory presence during key moments.
Dialogue is clear and full-bodied but speech is mixed a little too low for my tastes leading to some minor balance issues. The soundstage has a solid sense of space during the film's livelier moments with characters' voices, objects, and vehicles spread directionally around the room when called for. Occasional ambiance (birds chirping, an engine revving in the distance) also hits the surrounds, but the track's sense of immersion is a little restrained, with many scenes offering a front loaded and contained atmosphere. With that said, there are a few more creative and enveloping moments, like a tense sequence where we hear a crying baby circle the room. The thumping music comes through with nice fidelity, range, and separation. Bass activity is solid, but while there is some definite kick to gunshots and crashes, low frequencies aren't as robust as one might expect.
There is a general level of immersion here but the track is never exactly enveloping and dialogue is a little drowned out but some of the mix's more aggressive elements.
Vivendi has provided a small collection of supplements, including interviews and a deleted scene. All of the special features are presented in 1080i with DTS-HD MA 2.0 sound and no subtitle options (unless noted otherwise).
'The Power of Few' is an uneven and clunky foray into multi-perspective storytelling. Though the movie's climax does reveal some genuinely interesting ideas, they can't quite make up for the film's other flaws. The video and audio are both good, however, providing a strong technical presentation. Supplements aren't exactly comprehensive, but the included interviews are worthwhile. Sadly, despite some decent underlying themes, the filmmakers fail to bring them together, and the flick is mostly a misfire.