An alarmist tale of the inherent amorality and apathy lurking in the cyber-world, Disconnect tells what we already know in a way we’ve already seen.
Henry Alex Rubin’s Crashian ensemble drama bites off more than it can via three interlinked plot threads: a grieving woman (Paula Patton) and her emotionally distant husband (Alexander Skarsgard) become the victims of identity theft thanks to her dalliances in a chat room; an alienated teen (Jonah Bobo) takes drastic measures after he’s on the receiving end on cyber-bullying, sending his clueless father into a downward spiral; and an ambitious TV reporter (Andrea Riseborough) breaks a story on an online porn ring exploiting runaway teens, and more or less exploits one herself for career gain.
It’s ripe material, but Rubin’s approach is to opt for bland, predictable melodrama and borderline techno-phobia over more profound storytelling. It’s also too unfocused and hampered by a feeling of “Been there, done that”. Ironically, the most engaging subplot involves two characters whose problems don’t involve technology at all: a widower and former cop turned P.I. (Frank Grillo) whose strained relationship with his teen son (Colin Ford) has tragic repercussions.
Worse still is the waste of acting talent in one-note, nowhere-bound roles: Skarsgard as a generic emotionally scarred veteran, Riseborough as the umpteenth opportunistic journalist, Bateman as yet another affluent workaholic lawyer, et cetera. They’re sent around in circles for almost two hours, until the obligatory violent catharsis brings thing movie to a halt via an ill-advised slo-mo montage. The title proves sadly appropriate, as Disconnect is a film sadly out of touch with its subject matter.
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