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Christopher Gray plays the well-off yacht bro Richard.

775 Media Corp

  • Harpoon
  • Written and directed by Rob Grant
  • Starring Munro Chambers, Christopher Gray and Emily Tyra
  • Classification R; 83 minutes

rating

Narration can so often doom a film. Think of the soggy Harrison Ford voice-over that was added, then scrapped, from Blade Runner. Or the most eye-roll-worthy lines that Brad Pitt delivers in the otherwise excellent Ad Astra. Sometimes, though, the exact right kind of narrator can elevate, or even make essential, an otherwise middling work.

Such is the case with Harpoon, a brutal little lost-at-sea thriller that gets a welcome boost of surreal and deadpan humour from Brett Gelman as the story’s omniscient and unseen narrator. Gelman’s bone-dry delivery, a perfection of the know-it-all jerks he’s played on everything from Fleabag to Stranger Things, propels writer-director Rob Grant’s survival story every time it stalls, which is often.

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New films this week, from Eddie Murphy’s energetic comeback Dolemite Is My Name to Ang Lee’s story-lacking spectacle Gemini Man

That’s the problem when all three of your main characters – well-off yacht bro Richard (Christopher Gray), his depressed friend Jonah (Munro Chambers), and their mutual object of affection Sasha (Emily Tyra) – are reprehensible caricatures, hateful and tiring. Grant adds lots of fisticuffs and gore to the proceedings, but it’s Gelman’s voice that answer’s the narrative’s numerous SOS calls. Listen carefully, and you can almost hear the enjoyably comic and nasty tone Harpoon was likely going for – before it drowned in a flood of unwatchable idiots.

Harpoon opens Oct. 11 in Toronto

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