Director: Aneil Karia
Starring: Ben Wishaw, Ellie Haddington, Ian Gelder, Jasmine Jobson
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Runtime: 1 hr 39 mins
What It Is: Joseph (Ben Wishaw), a man stuck in the dull cycle of mundane life, goes on a bold and reckless journey of self-liberation in the city of London.
What We Think: If Good Time had an English counterpart, this would be it. Surge quite literally has adrenaline surging through its veins, though it takes a fair amount of buildup to get to that flow of ultimate anxiety. First off, Ben Wishaw here is unrecognizable. Having known him from the Bond films and the light-hearted Paddington films, his performance here is awe-inspiring. He is, really, at the very center of the film in every moment – and he unravels himself completely, undeniably going all out on every front as the film progresses.
What’s also interesting here is how that performance matches the film’s structure. It starts out dingy and dull but evolves into a high-octane thrill fest once the maniacal ball of Wishaw’s performance starts rolling. I will say this – certain imagery in this film will be very jarring for most people, yet I think that it adds a sense of realism that is incredibly tangible and effective. The camera work is almost completely handheld, which obviously makes the film very nauseating and jittery; but there’s a way in which the frames almost freeze during those movements, capturing Wishaw’s facial expressions amidst a blur of metropolitan life that encapsulate what this film is trying to present. Our main character here is very captivating in the way that he does outrageous things in places where you wouldn’t normally do so, just because he can, which is very entertaining to see.
It is a thrilling experience, although I don’t think that there’s much to come back to if you watch it for a second time, which is kind of the downfall of films like these. After digesting such a dizzying and intense story the first time, you’d have to either wipe your memory away or revisit it in a few years to feel that thrill again.
Our Grade: B+; Spearheaded by a brilliant performance from Ben Wishaw, Surge is (at its core) a day in the life… gone haywire. The only thing is, that day goes by in a bit of a blur – leaving us with a well-made one-time thrill ride.