It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Caught Up" is the first movie directed by Darin Scott, who has written three earlier movies and produced eight. I suspect he spent those years impatiently stashing away ideas and images for his own first film; "Caught Up" plays like Fibber McGee's closet--it opens, and everything but the kitchen sink comes tumbling out. Scott is ambitious and not without talent, but he ought to ration his material a little; there's so much plot it's dizzying.
"Caught Up" stars Bokeem Woodbine as Daryl, a man who dreams of opening his own club to support his girlfriend and their son. He needs $10,000, and a friend offers to get it at the bank. Daryl realizes too late that the withdrawal is a robbery. In prison, Daryl reads Greek philosophy. "You wanna know what those five years were like?" he asks. And when he answers, "Hell!" Scott has flames shoot up from the bottom of the screen. It's that kind of film.
On the outside again, Daryl meets a woman named Vanessa (Cynda Williams, from "One False Move"), who looks uncannily like his former girlfriend (who he is "staying away from" until he has his act together). She tells his fortune (Tarot cards are superimposed on the screen) and gets him a job as a limo driver, ferrying dubious people to unsavory destinations.
And then--well, at some point, I have to bail out of the plot description, because it begins to appear that Daryl is caught in an elaborate web of betrayal and deception, and nobody is quite who or what they seem. We get the rug pulled out from beneath us so many times we stop caring: What's the use of trying to figure things out when the story is toying with us? Yet the film has qualities. I liked the stylized way the story was told, with narration and flashbacks, visual overlays and special effects. Even those phony flames from hell were entertaining just because the movie was trying something. You could sense the enthusiasm of the director.
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