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Reckless (released under the title Zipper in 2015), written and directed by Mora Stephens is a drama about infidelity that’s bolstered by strong performances, particularly a committed Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2), but ultimately falls short because of its lackluster resolution.
Sam Ellis (Wilson) is an opportunistic prosecutor with a bright future ahead of him, what with being groomed for Attorney General and also considering running for Senate. The pressure of his job and his ambitions causes him to become extremely sexually frustrated, which is why he becomes a client for an escort service, despite being a husband and a father. His infidelity becomes a dangerous secret that could easily destroy his career and marriage overnight, and if Ellis isn’t careful, it just might.
Patrick Wilson is a very charismatic actor and he perfectly captures the guilt, anxiety, mounting pressure and sexual frustration that pushes Sam Ellis towards hiring prostitutes. The man fights his urges every step of the way, which makes his downwards spiral both captivating and sympathetic to a point, when he could have easily come across as completely reprehensible.
It’s textbook compulsive behavior and Reckless does a fine job of taking us through the process step by step. There a few moments in the later half where things escalate a bit too quickly, but thanks to a tight first act, Ellis’ behavior is grounded enough to be believable and understandable to an extent.
This is all helped by a strong supporting cast that includes the likes of Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), who plays Ellis’ wife Jeannie and Ray Winstone as Coaker, a veteran journalist and a friend of the family. Small appearances by Richard Dreyfuss, John Cho, Christopher McDonald and Dianna Agron also round off the principal players. As a whole, the cast is a group of fairly recognizable faces that give the movie a healthy dose of talent and star power.
It’s a little unfortunate that Reckless doesn’t spend more time on Jeannie. There’s a terrific scene near the end where husband and wife finally have a terse confrontation about the whole sordid affair and it would have been great if Headey had more of a presence throughout that could match the intensity of that moment.
Accents slip up every once in a while, but apart from that, performances are solid across the board.
The most disappointing thing about Reckless is the ending, which fails to provide a satisfying resolution. It’s not that it’s impossible to take the story in that direction, but Reckless haphazardly introduces crucial plot elements in the final stretch to make it all work, which makes the whole thing feel sloppy and rushed.
The movie also flirts with the idea of having something to say about the nature of the sex industry and its workers, with a few short, but interesting conversations between Sam and his escorts. In that aspect, Reckless threads on far too familiar ground and doesn’t devote nearly enough time to make it worthwhile and meaningful.
At its best, it’s a good character study that has an unsteady sense of story direction and a few pacing issues. Fortunately, the actors offset that enough to make it a compelling watch, for the most part. The ending leaves much to be desired, but as a whole, Reckless kind of works. With more polish and better plotting, this could have been something actually pretty great.
– Director’s Audio Commentary
– Deleted Scenes