STRESS POSITION (A.J. Bond). 79 minutes. Opens Friday (April 18). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
There are movies that fail to deliver on their potential. Then there are movies that don't even seem to understand what their potential was, starting out with a great idea and then drifting further and further away from it. Stress Position is one of those.
In a couple of genuinely gripping scenes, actor/director A.J. Bond establishes his rock-solid premise: the filmmaker and his actor friend David Amito have wagered $10,000 that Amito will be able to resist a week of Guantánamo Bay-style incarceration.
There can be no severe pain and no permanent damage, but Bond can do just about anything else to get Amito to cough up the password to a money transfer for the agreed-upon amount.
The first half-hour is riveting, with Bond provoking Amito any way he can. But then Stress Position shifts a little, expanding its scope - and that airtight concept starts to slide away through bad storytelling choices and inconsistent behaviour.
Bond's script also gets overly precious about whether what we're seeing is real or fictional, introducing a producer (Marguerite Moreau) whose ethical and dramatic concerns are designed to anticipate our own. But this winds up feeling like a very awkward attempt to add self-awareness to a project that's only just realized it desperately needs some.