YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE REVIEWED
“You Were Never Really Here” plays like a self-defeatist Punisher movie. Joe has had a troubled life. Yet, he’s an ex-CIA operator and former soldier. Sure, he uses those skills to rescue missing girls and beat down their captors. After all that ends, Joe spends his days trying to keep from blowing his brains out. American cinema rarely highlights the impact of being a vehicle for rage. Where does that energy go when the mission is over and case is solved? Ramsay’s decision to keep a third of the movie’s focus on how Joe copes is rather amazing.
Many have complained about the fact that the central crime in the film is wrapped up so neatly. Well, no. That’s a bit of a misdirect and only serves to showcase the problem with Joe. While he could’ve been amazing at this while younger, he’s an old man slowly losing his purpose. Joe remembers his childhood, while trying to make sense of what he has become now. Naturally, he’s an abuse survivor who returns violence upon errant father figures.
Ultimately, that’s what the film boils down to as a narrative. It’s a look at the cycle of paternal guardianship gone lop-sided. Think of the sheepdog. When they’re young and protecting their flocks, they have purpose and are vibrant. Their health is at its peak and they can work without tiring. What do they do when the sheep no longer need them?
I can’t understand how this film hasn’t blown up for a wider audience. Joaquin Phoenix delivers a career best, as he purposefully takes the fight out of a vigilante/enforcer to investigate the why. Is it too much for audiences to stare down now? The monsters in this film are all too real, but the violence goes a step beyond.
- 1 hr and 29 mins
- Amazon Studios