Here at Balladeer’s Blog my love of enjoyably bad movies has been well established. You can count me as one of the many “Human Breens” as fans of filmmaker Neil Breen are called.
Neil Breen (PBUH) started out as an architect and realtor with minor show-biz dabblings as a dancer in Madonna’s Vogue video and as a cop in Scream. Years later Breen surfaced once again in the entertainment world, this time as an independent filmmaker.
As with the best of the bad auteurs Neil churns out productions that are uniquely his own. There is no mistaking a Neil Breen film with a film made by anyone else. Picture The Room’s Tommy Wiseau trying to make a David Lynch movie. But with a LOT more needless violence against laptop computers.
Read on for a look at the first four examples of Breen Cinema.
DOUBLE DOWN (2005) – Neil Breen starred, wrote and directed this movie – and quite obviously he or an associate even wrote the IMDb description of the plot. That description calls Double Down “an edgy action thriller,” which would certainly come as a surprise to anyone who has actually SEEN the film.
Double Down set the pattern for all things Breen, which is to say it redefines Vanity Projects AND Mary Sue-ing. He casts himself as (insert some sort of human or superhuman paragon here) who (engages in some sort of activity) while looking down on everyone else with a judgmental air of disapproval and ennui. And needless to say, he’s the BEST at looking down on everyone else with a judgmental air of disapproval and ennui.
Breen is often the only character in his films who is right or who even has any valid points to make. Neil’s cinematic philosophy seems to be “Well, I can’t just film myself masturbating but let’s see how close to that I can get!”
Neil stars and directs himself as Aaron Brand, a master assassin who is also a master computer hacker and master political fixer and master car thief. A man like this makes enemies. And I mean Neil Breen, of course, not his character Aaron Brand. But Brand has his own issues.
Brand boasts about fixing elections and robbing nations of their water supply and other assorted heinous acts. (Yet he sleeps in his car. Go figure.) He has planted various high-tech traps and bio-weapons around the world to use as leverage if his legion of adversaries gets too close. So they target his wife instead.
Despite his near-omnipotence (THE defining quality of every character Neil Breen plays) somehow Aaron Brand failed to prevent his wife from dying. His late wife’s consciousness was somehow projected into untold numbers of laptops around the world (or something), and it is from those laptops that she hounds Aaron from beyond the grave.
Brand’s obsessive antipathy toward laptops couldn’t be more absurd if he roamed the world shooting every laptop he encounters, like some Spaghetti Western hero on a revenge quest. In a way, laptops are to Neil Breen as clocks were to Salvador Dali and become a theme in his future movies. But his use of canned tuna as a metaphor ended with this debut feature.
Anyway, Aaron’s dead but computerized wife is somehow powerful enough to subject him to a repeating time-loop (or something) : he keeps waking up next to his car in the Nevada desert and relives some of his past missions, ultimately motivating him to want to destroy Las Vegas in its entirety … or to SAVE Las Vegas. (?)
There’s also lots of anthrax and a crazy old man who gives our hero a rock that cures cancer. No, I’m not kidding. It may sound impossible but there’s a good chance you’ll understand Breen’s films LESS with each subsequent viewing. Now THAT’S a Master of Badfilm!
I AM HERE …. NOW (2009) – And I’m going to review this movie …. now. Neil Breen made it official with his second film: he is going to be to Las Vegas what Andy Milligan was to Staten Island and William Girdler was to Louisville. And somebody needs to explain to Neil that an ellipse consists of three dots, not four. (When you can’t get the punctuation marks in your own title right …)
This time around Neil portrays the only figure that is nearly as awe-inspiring as himself: God. Technically called the Being, Neil’s character is revealed to be the creator of life on Earth. He is thoroughly disgusted with lesser beings for not being as wonderful and virtuous as he considers himself to be. And I mean Neil Breen, of course, not his character the Being. (Sorry. That’s the last time I’ll do that. I promise.)
The Being is walking toward Las Vegas where he interacts with various sinful and immoral humans and is frankly fed up with them. Think Godspell in the Desert with no songs but with lots and lots of baby heads in the sand.
Violent crime has never been this funny as Neil encounters street thugs who shoot, rape and kill but also take time out to ATTACK A CANCER PATIENT IN A WHEELCHAIR! Now that’s cold.
The Being unleashes his powers on these miscreants but doesn’t spare the other types of evil-doers in the world. The movie’s central villains are corporate rich pigs and corrupt politicians who are as one-dimensionally evil as the people that propagandist Michael Moore depicts in his conspiracy kook flicks.
These bad guys – who recite their stilted dialogue even more listlessly than Neil Breen does – ultimately get theirs in over-the-top ways, like by getting crucified in the desert by the Being.
In the end, just like another desert-dwelling doer of good works (Mad Max. Who did you think I meant?) the Being cures people, raises from the dead and then sends forth his disciples to spread his teachings.
Anyway, the Breen-iverse of this movie as always consists of simplistic moralizing and large-breasted women. And don’t forget the corrupt politicians who make a point of explaining to each other how corrupt they are in tedious detail.
Seriously, in real life a shadowy figure would suspect their co-conspirator of wearing a wire if they spelled out their sinister plans aloud all the time.
FATEFUL FINDINGS (2013) – Neil Breen IS Dylan, a powerful psychic who is also a master computer hacker (yes, again) and novelist. If he solved murders he’d already be the lead character in a television detective show. Come to think of it, there IS a murder in this film.
The poster captures it all: Neil Breen’s face looming large, a few women who turn out to have fairly nice breasts AND the world’s greatest menace … laptop computers. These laptops don’t fare any better than the ones in Double Down, I’m afraid.
And speaking of Breen’s debut effort, he apparently didn’t like playing a character with various subtle shadings like in Double Down. In Fateful Findings he once again depicts a figure with no significant faults like in I Am Here …. Now. He also takes part in one of cinema’s most unintentionally hilarious sex scenes of all time.
Since this is a Neil Breen flick it goes without saying that all the female characters just adore him. (Sheesh! Even Tommy Wiseau made it so that his on-screen girlfriend was cheating on him.) A dog licking its own balls is nothing compared to the affection Breen heaps upon himself in his movies.
While everyone around him struggles to endure their various crises Neil’s Dylan is their touchstone of course. In the end he uses his hacking abilities to expose corruption in government. The movie presents all that in an even more unintentionally funny way than does Tom Laughlin’s Billy Jack Goes To Washington.
And not even Laughlin ever penned a line of dialogue that compares to Breen as Dylan lamenting over the body of a dead friend with the words “I can’t believe you committed suicide. I cannot believe you committed suicide. How could you have done this? How could you have committed suicide?”
Classic! And in an ending full of poetic justice … or something … the corrupt politicians and corporate rich pigs all commit suicide because Neil exposed their wrongdoing. These suicides are presented in a howlingly inept way.
PASS THRU (2016) – By this point Neil Breen is showing how truly little he brings to the table ( a table designed AND built by himself, naturally). Just as Fateful Findings recycled many story elements from Double Down, Pass Thru recycles many story elements from I Am Here …. Now and Fateful Findings.
Instead of being a God who is disgusted with humanity and sets out to teach them the error of their ways, this time around Mister Breen portrays Artificial Intelligence from the far future who is disgusted with humanity and sets out to teach them the error of their ways. Mostly by killing them off by the millions … and by crashing their parties for simplistic moralizing. (Genocide, sure, but social faux pas? What a monster!)
The bloom may be off the proverbial rose by this point in Breen’s career. Unlike his previous efforts Pass Thru never made me feel like I was watching something bad in a fresh new way. It was just the same ol’ same ol’. The only new twist was the way that – for some reason – insurance agents have been added to Breen’s list of nefarious human beings. (?)
And since Double Down was described on IMDb as “an edgy action thriller” I say Pass Thru should be described as “the definitive Nicolas Cage bio-pic.”
So what’s next from Neil? Will he play a god-like being sharing a cure for cancer while setting straight every misguided or evil figure on Earth while in his spare time he beds down with a long line of ladies, all of whom give birth to babies which all sport the head of a full-grown Neil Breen?
Don’t let it end like this, Neil!
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