3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A good effort but you'll have seen it all before,
This review is from: Cleaner [DVD] (DVD)
I'm a massive fan of Renny Harlin. I think the director's 'Die Hard 2' and 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' are two of the best action films ever made, and 'Deep Blue Sea' is a damn good ride. However, his efforts into psychological thriller territory show off his weaknesses.
The Covenant was very poor, lacking tension and excitement, and sadly this also largely lacks his trademark suspense and tension.
There are several good moments - the first twenty minutes are original and very well handled, building excitement, but after that it all falls apart like wet tissue paper under the weight of typical Hollywood "you just wouldn't DO that!" scripting, in which almost everyone involved chooses to behave contrary to all normal instincts. Should report it to the Police? Don't. There are reasons given for their barmy actions, but they don't hold up under even passing scrutiny, especially when Jackson's single-parent has so much to lose.
From there, the script effectively tries to build tension with a twisting storyline, and is always interesting at the least. Suspicion is thrown around nicely, as this is a fairly classic 'whodunnit' conspiracy thriller. Unfortunately it's also classic in the sense that if you've seen this kind of film before, it's all very predictable. All the expected actions happen. All the expected bad guy red herrings pop up, and in the end, all the people you thought would turn out to be the surprise bad apple pop up as - hey! The surprise bad apple!
It's as important for a director to know his strengths and weaknesses as it is for an actor. Perhaps even more so, as a 'mis-cast' director can bring down a whole film, while a mis-cast actor just destabilises it. While Harlin tries valiantly, he's better with high-concept action and fast cutting - there are far better suspense directors out there at making a hackneyed lazy script like this seem fresh and taut. Unfortunately therefore while he does a good job, it just isn't good enough to camoflage this as anything better than it actually is, which is a good basic idea married to a tired re-tread of every murder-mystery conspiracy film you've ever sat through.