Old ★½

Look I know M Night is a divisive director and he has some loyal fans, but I personally consider him to be one of my least favorite filmmakers. He's proven that he knows how to make a good movie more than once, and that he can direct actors and create memorable characters, so I can only imagine he intentionally uses the complete creative freedom so generously afforded him to be a massive troll. If it was at least fun I'd be laughing along (and for much of it I was), but Shyamalan's smug, overly grandiose trademark style has officially become his crutch.

In a way, Old doesn't rely on its big twist at all, acting as a pretty straightforward mystery/thriller for the most part – until it ultimately sets out on what was always the mission: eating itself alive and then shitting itself back out with the final reveal. The biggest revelation is that this is actually the form most of M Night's twists have taken throughout his career, if a bit less obviously, and that the awkward blundering here reveals 2 fundamental issues with his reliance on a final twist, both crippling.

The first is that by turning what could be a fairly standard 3rd act reveal into some mega mind-blowing twist, the rest of the movie is made trivial. So much for what was actually a fairly intelligent examination of aging through displaying the process void of the passage of time – growing older without the ability to mature or the time to process the changes both around and within oneself – because ultimately that doesn't matter in the slightest. All that matters is that final (really fucking stupid and frankly irresponsible) twist, and in retrospect it peels apart the moments of interest that make up most of the preceding 100 minutes. As it turns out it wasn't a study of aging at all, and in fact the only thing that mattered was the apparently cruel intentions behind their being subjected to this process. Furthermore, it retroactively relegates many of the characters to props, people established only to be victims in a demonstration of other "more important" characters' reasons for being chosen for {REDACTED}.

The second problem is somewhat connected to the first, and is a little more obvious. How does a filmmaker fool an audience that is expecting to be fooled? Shyamalan figured it out: the answer is by throwing in something so completely out of left field, so utterly devoid of logical connection to the narrative itself that it borderline doesn't even make sense. No sane audience member would guess something so thoroughly random, therefore the crisis is averted. Don't worry about the fact that it is both radically nonsensical and a scientifically inelegant and potentially harmful viewpoint of {REDACTED}, because at least there's no way you could have guessed it. The twist doesn't fit, it doesn't belong, so that it technically "makes sense" is almost completely irrelevant.

All of this is made more frustrating by the fact that I was actually enjoying the movie until the end, which makes it so annoying that the ending is all I can think about. I think the worst part is it isn't a dumb movie; Shyamalan knows exactly what he's doing, and he does it anyway. I do have to say that Alex Wolff is clearly the best actor here, props to him for his commitment to the bit.

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