If you ever find yourself kidnapped by a serial killer intent on impregnating you and starting a family, you better hope that the cop on the case to find you isn’t John Cusack because he will suck at doing so. In the psychological thriller The Factory, Cusack demonstrates the reasons why he should stay away from serious films and why he’s definitely a better actor than a hard-nose detective.
The Factory follows Detective Mike Fletcher (Cusack) as he and his partner Kelsey (Jennifer Carpenter) search for the person responsible for the mysterious disappearances of prostitutes throughout Buffalo. Just as the case gets shut down by the department due to lack of evidence, Fletcher’s rebellious young daughter, played by Mae Whitman, is kidnapped by the same person Fletcher is hell-bent on finding.
The film set up an interesting, albeit, old concept with a decent and likeable cast. The villain, played by Dallas Roberts, differed from other killers that movies have showed us in the past; rather than kidnapping women just to torture, rape and kill them, this bad guy is just a misunderstood daddy who wants to start a family and create a lasting commitment with his victims. Where the villain of the film brings something unique to the serial killer psycho-drama, the rest of the movie falls in line with the tired and cliché formula reminiscent of other movies in the genre, all wrapped up with a twist ending.
Now, I’m not sure if The Factory was extremely predictable and at times, borderline retarded, or if I’m just really intelligent and able to realize things before the characters did. I’m going to go out on a limb and pick the former and blame the film’s screenwriters Morgan O’Neil (who also directed) and Paul A. Leydon for creating one-dimensional characters and for assuming that moviegoers are extremely stupid.
There’s foreshadowing and then there’s completely giving something away, which is exactly what The Factory did numerous times throughout the film. Kelsey tells Fletcher about a young girl who disappeared in her hometown years ago, a girl who no one ever looked for, and then there are flashbacks of the killer picking up a hitchhiker alongside the road. They don’t show her face but I’m pretty sure that you can guess who she is.
Aside from the predictable aspects of the film, the characters are just plain dumb. While Fletcher is investigating a suspect he runs into a man with a Southern accent – the killer – who, for some strange reason, has a gash at the top of his head. You’d think Fletcher would question it, considering that the man works with the suspect he is looking for, but he doesn’t. Then Fletcher speaks with a prostitute who claims to have hit a Southern man over the head with a bottle after he tried pulling her into his car. He still didn’t put two and two together. I’m sorry but if Fletcher is supposed to be a lauded detective with eighteen years on the force, shouldn’t he pick up on something like that?
Not only are the characters complete morons, they have absolutely no chemistry together. Fletcher and Kelsey are supposedly really great friends after working together for years; however, you’d never know it by the distance between the pair. Carpenter usually shows range in her work, especially on Dexter; but, in The Factory, she felt more like a prop for Cusack, only providing useless dialogue and overacting—which was already abundant in this film thanks to Cusack.
The Factory was a mediocre movie filled with stale performances from both Cusack and Carpenter. The story has been done before and done better. The predictableness was ridiculous; I almost expected Fletcher to stand outside of Kelsey’s house with a boom box over his head, professing his love for her. Thankfully, the film didn’t go that way, but I’m sure it was an option! Skip this movie unless your only reason for watching it is to make yourself feel super smart as you figure things out before the characters do.