Chosen Season 2 (2013 TVM)

vt CH:OS:EN Season 2

US / ~130 minutes (6 episodes of 21–23 minutes) / color / Dissident, DiVide, Lifeboat, Sony Dir: Ben Ketai Pr: Amy Kim Scr: Evan Charnov, Ben Ketai Story: Ben Ketai, Ryan Lewis Cine: Tim Burton Cast: Chad Michael Murray, Sarah Roemer, Nicky Whelan, Caitlin Carmichael, Joey Luthman, Milo Ventimiglia, Brandon Routh, Evan Arnold, Brett Davern, Joey Kern, Shaun Baker, Cody Williams, Kyle Mattocks.

Chosen 2 - 2 Morning with Max

Morning at Max’s — how the other half lives.

The second Chosen story has the same premise as the first, about which I posted in September. Thanks to modern surveillance technology, a pervasive group of secret masters, The Watchers, is able to force us lesser mortals to play a lethal game. An individual will receive a box containing some meaningless clockwork (a reminder of the passage of time?), a handgun and a photograph. The recipient of this package must kill the person shown in the photograph and named in its caption within 72 hours or the recipient’s loved ones will be slaughtered. And, of course, there are other “hunters” who’ve been given the task of killing the recipient, themselves operating under the same rules. In the first series we followed the fate of the Mitchell family—Ian (Ventimiglia), Laura (Whelan) and their young daughter Ellie (Carmichael)—and they form the secondary of the two plot strands contained in Season 2.

As with the first season, the six episodes of this serial were released almost simultaneously; as they form a cohesive whole, I’ve elected to treat this as if it were a single movie—which is presumably how it’ll be viewed when the DVD comes along. At the moment it can be watched on Sony’s Crackle site. I couldn’t get the player there to work with my Firefox browser and, although Internet Explorer got the damn’ thing to play, I still had all sorts of issues—such as “Pause” working only sometimes. Since either the player or Internet Explorer or the combination of both devoured resources, making everything else on the computer add new layers of meaning to the word “sluggish,” by the time I got to the end of Episode 6 I was . . . well, put it this way, any positive benefits of the extensive product placements in the movie for Sony gadgetry had been comprehensively nullified.

The six episodes are titled thus:

  1.  Second Chances
  2.  Heroes and Villains
  3. Right At Your Door
  4. Killers
  5. Collision Course
  6. Protect Your Own

As hinted above, there are two plot strands which play in parallel before coming together for an ending that clearly presages the making of a Season 3 somewhere down the line.

Chosen 2 - 5

Avery (Sarah Roemer).

The main story concerns Jacob Orr (Murray), a trained engineer who, because of his pride, is currently working as a Los Angeles bartender. He’s just about ready to leave a party at the home of his old friend Max Gregory (Routh), an immensely wealthy surveillance-equipment manufacturer, when he’s befriended by attractive hospital physician Dr. Avery Sharp (Roemer); she gives him her phone number and he promises to call. As he drives home he discovers his car contains one of The Watchers’ boxes. When he stops the car at a supermarket parking lot, a man (Arnold) appears with a gun, weeping with apologies as he tries to kill him. Just then another man with a gun Continue reading

Chosen (2013 TVM)

vt CH:OS:EN

US / ~132 minutes in 6 episodes / color / Dissident, Crackle Dir & Scr: Ben Ketai Pr: Amy Kim Story: Ben Ketai, Ryan Lewis Cine: Tim Burton (i.e., Timothy A. Burton) Cast: Milo Ventimiglia, Nicky Whelan, Caitlin Carmichael, Diedrich Bader, Noel G, Jeff Branson, Brett Davern, Shaun Baker.

Defense attorney Ian Mitchell (Ventimiglia) one morning discovers on his doorstep an ornamented wooden box containing a gun, the photograph of a stranger—dentist Daniel Easton (Bader)—and a deadline by which he must kill Easton. Just as he’s picking the package up, someone starts shooting at him. He calls the cops, but the cops who arrive, led by Detective Inkster (Baker), act oddly—oddest of all, they leave the unregistered gun with him. At first Ian’s inclined just to blow the whole thing off, but then it becomes clear the lives of his daughter Ellie (Carmichael) and estranged wife Laura (Whelan) may be forfeit should he fail to fulfill his unsought contract.

He discovers he’s been made one of the players in a lethal game run for their own entertainment by a mysterious decadent group called The Watchers—one of whose agents proves to be Laura’s studly new boyfriend Chris (Branson). In the game, hapless victims must murder seemingly randomly chosen others while at the same time being themselves targets; as fuel to keep the “chosen” participating, their loved ones are threatened and/or abducted—and indeed Ian’s daughter Ellie is taken from him by two thugs in the guise of LAPD cops. (The conspiracy-theory trope that the LAPD is up to its eyes in this recurs throughout.)

Despite a soundtrack crammed with far too many heavily struck portentous chords, this is quite well done, with Ventimiglia channeling his inner Nicolas Cage, Whelan delivering a competent performance, and Carmichael attaining at least 7 or 8  deciFannings in the screaming-child department. The ending—Ellie is recovered but brings with her another box, this time for Laura, the target being Ian—manages to provide some sense of conclusion while at the same time setting things up for the planned sequel.

Chosen was created for and released through Crackle, a division of Sony whose specialty is ad-supported online streaming video. Although this is technically a serial/series, all of the episodes were released simultaneously (January 17 2013) so that viewers could watch them consecutively; it therefore seems to make sense to treat the piece as a single movie that suffers irritatingly frequent interruptions.

On Amazon.com: Chosen

MUCH LATER ADDITION: A second series did indeed turn up. You can see my take on it here.

 

If you like this sort of stuff, you can find the Film Noir encyclopedia here: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir: The Essential Reference Guide