These are the kinds of movies I hate reviewing. As the old saying goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. So: Danny Glover is in it. So is Joe Anderson. Those are wins in my book.
Can we leave it at that?
Well, we might could’ve if the Supremacy had much nice to say, but it doesn’t. Actually, it’s rather hateful. The title refers to white supremacy, as our just-out-of-jail antihero Tully is a high-ranking white supremacist out after serving 15 years in the slammer. Apparently he’s still got friends on the outside, because a woman is waiting when he gets out to drive him to…somewhere. Exactly where Tully thinks he’s supposed to be going and what he’ll be doing there is a mystery Supremacy never feels compelled to let us in on. It doesn’t matter too much, though, because Tully soon murders a cop, and he and his driver, Doreen, find themselves holding a black family hostage while hiding from police.
You might be saying, hold on a second, Tully just kills a cop? For no reason? Umm…yes. The cop (who happens to be black) pulls them over, but the actual murder takes place off screen as the title card plays. Eventually a series of flashbacks tell more about Tully and Doreen’s drive away from the prison and some of the event that led up to the murder, although in actuality it’s not half as revelatory as that summary might suggest. Mostly Tully’s just a hateful person, and isn’t even given a recognizable motivation as simple as, “I’ve got to get to X location to do Y deed.” The aimlessness befits his personality, I guess, but a lack of recognizable character motivation is a problem through the whole film, and it starts with its detestable leading man.
And now we’ve hit the two problems that keep the good ship Supremacy permanently grounded. One, the movie lacks any sort of redeeming thematic quality; and two, the characters are shockingly underdrawn. So dealing with the thematic problem first, it’s not too much of a spoiler, I think, to say some catharsis is shoehorned into the ending, and in a better movie that might be powerful. Here, though, I felt beat down and disgusted within the first ten minutes of the movie, and Supremacy never does anything with that. Its main characters, Tully and Doreen, are hate-filled, ugly people, and while the movie never condones their actions, Supremacy is little more than provide an arena to watch them in the hopes that you will be entertained. It feels needless to say, it’s not entertaining.
To its credit, Supremacy does make an attempt to fill out its characters, both Tully and Doreen as well as the family of seven they’re holding hostage, but generally this comes in what I like to call bullet point characterization. Imagine you have a character summary for, say, Danny Glover’s patriarch, Mr. Walker. On it you have things like “Ex-Con” and “Mistrusts police” and “Had a falling out with his son.” And so you get a line about how Mr. Walker thinks he can communicate with Tully, because they’ve both been in the joint. And he’s reluctant to call the police because he doesn’t trust them. Which is partially because he’s an ex-con (though by all appearances, doing well for himself now) and partly because his estranged son is a cop. And that’s about as deep or tied together as anything gets. Characters will have one-off lines clearly meant to expand them beyond “captive” or “captor,” but these bits of dimensionality rarely have impact beyond the scene they’re found in, and certainly don’t connect to the deeper dramatic movements this thriller is trying to weave. To make matters worse, many of the characters are wildly inconsistent. Doreen’s the worst of the bunch, alternating from sympathetic with her captives to a bloodthirsty racist in a matter of minutes.
The Verdict: 1 out of 5
I like Danny Glover and Joe Anderson as actors, and it’s clear they’re trying their best. But it’s also clear that they’re bumping up against severe limitations in the script and possibly in the direction as well. Neither is able to break his character out into meaningful or three-dimensional figure, an issue the entire cast struggles with. But beyond that, regardless of the pretense at reconciliation and forgiveness that inevitably comes, Supremacy is a film that focuses on ugly, hateful things, doesn’t do anything interesting with its abusive nature and is simply difficult to sit through.