The anthology format has been around probably as long as mankind has been telling stories. Granted, the types of tales that have been spun have differed, but the basic premise – several yarns all strung together by one central narrative conceit – remains the same. This doesn’t mean that every flick or television show crafted around it will be good; rather, it implies that there might be some middling highs and lows the audience should expect and be prepared for once the lights fade to black. For all its blemishes (and there are plenty), LOCKER 13 doesn’t fail to deliver: I thought it packed its punch in too early and left me feeling suckerpunched in the end.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
I won’t recite the various plots explored din LOCKER 13, other than to repeat the following from the product packaging: “an aging boxer who is given an opportunity to become a real killing machine, a young man seeking membership in a secret society who experiences an initiation with deadly consequences, a would be suicide shaken to his core by a menacing member of a very special club, and a hit man for hire playing a devious cat and mouse game with three women who have a score to settle.” Suffice it to say, these separate tales all happened to be linked by the mysterious locker 13 – in some cases, just a passing mention of the 13 really suffices – but, otherwise, they’re really all over the place.
Like the good ol’ anthology tale, each of them kinda/sorta flirts with the magical, the mysterious, or the mystical in some welcome ways, the best of which (so far as I’m concerned) is the first tale, starring Ricky Schroder as the aging boxer. He’s given a second chance at stardom when he puts on a pair of magical boxing gloves and … see what I mean? The stories of this nature tend to write themselves. Going in, you’re pretty much guaranteed that the main character is going to suffer some crucial if not tragic comeuppance by the fade-out.
Sadly, there’s just nothing all that grand here. Meh. I suppose there’s an ounce of wit and whimsy packed in measureable doses, but when the comedy of the bunch – the one involving the young man seeking membership in a 20’s era secret society – really isn’t all that funny, you know you’re in for a rough ride. Also, the narrative trickery required to link all of these yarns together – the ubiquitous Locker 13 – really isn’t all that interesting, either. The suicide-centric story has some strong potential; too much of it relies on stronger performances (which aren’t here), and it’s put together more like a community theatre one-act than it is a motion picture production.
To the film’s credit, it’s set in an old Wild West theme park (a great choice, so far as I care). Who hasn’t loved the theme park? Who hasn’t wanted to visit and take one of the wild rides? The truth is these rides weren’t built to last, and the connective snippets that serve to attach the tales one to the next is ultra-thin, leaving me left with the lingering doubt that this failed to ignite any interest as a possible TV show so, instead, producers repackaged it into a theatrical run for the uninitiated.
Now, I’m all for making a buck. Always have been. Always will be. Heck, that’s what the theme park in question is all about. I just hate it when that buck stops nowhere. This is a locker best left closed.
LOCKER 13 (2014) is produced by Brothers’ Ink Productions. DVD distribution is being handled by Arc Entertainment. As for the technical specifications, this is one smartly shot release, and no expense was spared in bringing the best quality sights and sounds to life (even if that life will be short-lived!). Lastly, if it’s special features that float your boat, then you’re about to be waterlogged as there really aren’t any.
(MILDLY) RECOMMENDED. Only if you like anthology programming (and I’d put the emphasis on ‘like’) can you find much value in LOCKER 13. My chief complaint is that there’s nothing new here – we’ve seen it all before, including the endless parade of characters, situations, and actors. Unless I miss my guess, this theatrical project was possibly culled together from a failed television program with hopes to recoup some of the investment: how else do you explain a boxing segment that features absolutely no boxing footage?
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Arc Entertainment provided me with a DVD copy of LOCKER 13 by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.