Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' Viggo Mortensen Reveals He Turned Down Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight,' Auditioned For 'Reservoir Dogs' Viggo Mortensen Reveals He Turned Down Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight,' Auditioned For 'Reservoir Dogs' Watch: First Teaser Trailer For 'Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation' With Tom Cruise Arrives, If You Choose To Accept It Watch: First Teaser Trailer For 'Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation' With Tom Cruise Arrives, If You Choose To Accept It Jonathan Nolan Says His Original Ending To 'Interstellar' Was “Much More Straightforward” Jonathan Nolan Says His Original Ending To 'Interstellar' Was “Much More Straightforward” The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Cannes Review: Takashi Miike's 'Shield Of Straw' A Tedious, Dumb & Overstuffed Thriller

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist May 20, 2013 at 9:00AM

Particularly with a filmmaker like Claire Denis shifted to the Un Certain Regard category or Ari Folman's "The Congress" scuttled to the Directors' Fortnight sidebar, many will be wondering what on Earth the Cannes selection committee saw in Takashi Miike's "Shield Of Straw" to have it play in competition (especially considering it already opened a month ago in Japan). A b-movie potboiler at best, and indebted to countless other and much better films, this tedious, dumb, so-bad-it's-almost-funny procedural is an overstuffed thriller that offers one single idea, and proceeds to beat it to death, without much of anything to say.
4
Shield Of Straw

Particularly with a filmmaker like Claire Denis shifted to the Un Certain Regard category or Ari Folman's "The Congress" scuttled to the Directors' Fortnight sidebar, many will be wondering what on Earth the Cannes selection committee saw in Takashi Miike's "Shield Of Straw" to have it play in competition (especially considering it already opened a month ago in Japan). A b-movie potboiler at best, and indebted to countless other and much better films, this tedious, dumb, so-bad-it's-almost-funny procedural is an overstuffed thriller that offers one single idea, and proceeds to beat it to death, without much of anything to say.

While critics will certainly have fun patting themselves on the back by listing off the movies Miike was clearly inspired by -- "Treasure Of The Sierra Madre"! "Assault On Precinct 13"! "Wages Of Fear"! -- "Straw Of Shield" is simply not in the same league, ballpark or even city of those movies. But, like those aforementioned films, the plot is pretty straightforward: two emotionally damaged cops are tasked with transporting a child rapist and murderer to Tokyo, so he can stand trial. The twist? The grandfather of one of the victims has put a $1 billion dollar bounty on his head and cops and citizens alike come gunning for him.

Shield of Straw

What Miike's film asks is whether or not the life of depraved criminals is worth protecting, particularly if it comes at the expense of innocent lives. And then he asks this question, repeatedly, for the rest of the movie. With a vague ticking clock of 48 hours, and even vaguer sense of the distance that needs to be traveled to deliver said baddie to the authorities, Miike's protagonists certainly do find a lot of time to spend tensely standing around, debating the ethics of their job. But the movie is never as smart as it thinks it is, and the eventual double-crosses by those sworn to protect the accused baddie are as obvious as they are poorly handled.

In fact, the entire movie feels misshapen, almost as if Miike shot the script, cut it together and didn't bother actually watching it. The pacing in particular is patience-testing, with Miike establishing, re-establishing and re-re-establishing thin character motivations almost to the point of parody. Meanwhile, other threads are left unresolved, including one involving a shadowy villain figure inside the police department, who is left dangling in the wind. 

Shield Of Straw

But Miike seems to realize his film is entirely lacking in a pulse, and perhaps to make up for it, the sound effects in particular are cranked up to ten. One fistfight in particular finds the snare drum punches pitched to ear-splitting levels, while helicopters and planes loom ominously in the mix for no real reason.Perhaps the only moment that finds Miike having any fun, an early over-the-top setpiece involving a nitroglycerin filled truck, ends in wild fiery explosion, and in many ways is the only spark of true tension or excitement in the film. But for the most part, "Straw Of Shield" features various people pointing guns and ordering one another to stand down.

Another film that "Shield Of Straw" resembles is "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" as the cops use all three modes of transport (in that order as well) to bring the criminal to Tokyo, and along the way have various (but much more grim than in the John Hughes classic, obviously), adventures. It's only at the end of the movie where the playful, boundary pushing Miike most are more familiar with bothers to show up. The killer's final lines suggest a gleeful, pitch black perversity that the rest of "Straw Of Shield" could have used, but instead it's a thoroughly below average genre flick that's empty on ideas and entertainment value. Judging from the hearty, scattered boos following the Cannes press screening, we're not the only ones who felt this way. [D]

This article is related to: Shield Of Straw, Takashi Miike, Cannes Film Festival, Reviews, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates