"Kontroll" DVD Review

7/16/2010 Posted by Admin


DVD, Blu-ray Review

Directed by Nimrod Antal, Written by Antal and Jim Adler, 105 Minutes, Rated R

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

"Kontroll" is an astonishing film. Its director, Nimrod Antal, has made an impressive mark on Hollywood with his severely underrated "Armored" and even more recently with "Predators," but it's clear that the man has talent far beyond mainstream blockbuster fare.

"Kontroll" marked his debut as both a writer and director, and in many ways he follows in the tradition of other modern independent filmmakers-turned-big shots like Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan (or perhaps most appropriately, the still relatively unknown Canadian director Gary Burns and his film "Waydowntown"), in that he uses quite a small setting (in this case a Budapest metro station) but manages to make his film just as emotionally charged and exciting as filmmakers with monster budgets and unlimited resources.

"Kontroll" (literally translated as "control," but the title in Hungarian refers both to the control of ticket inspectors over the subway system as well as the self-control said inspectors are supposed to adopt under stress) follows a group of men working as ticket checkers at a metro station, the de facto leader of which, Bulcsu, actually stays in the subway system 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, sleeping on the platforms, eating at various food courts and vending machines, and avoiding the outside world at any cost. Perhaps the best thing about our main character and his lifestyle is that, like many mysteries in the film, it remains relatively unexplained. Instead, Antal focuses on the present, leaving Bulcsu's past and his motivations to the audience to figure out.

Like Bulcsu, we also spend all of the film underground, and despite the dreary locale and dark, cruel metal coloring, Antal manages to find a lot of beauty in it, with stunning shots of long halls of fluorescent lights beaming down on subway patrons, long tracking shots following snazzily-dressed hotshots roaming the platforms--Antal somehow even makes picturesque moments out of halted escalators.

Outside of its small setting, "Kontroll" also shares a lot with Smith and Tarantino's debuts in how well the tone is balanced. A plot is virtually nonexistent, mostly the film just revolves around the day-to-day workings of Bulcsu and his confidantes, but there is also a loose side plot involving a potential serial killer pushing people into oncoming trains and a budding romance between Bulcsu and a woman dressed as a giant teddy bear, and the way Antal balances moments of really absurd comedy with brief moments of action and a plethora of thrills is rather incredible.

And, both with his comedy and his thrills, Antal is constantly keeping us at the edge of our seat, and is always several steps ahead--the way he toys with audience expectations, especially in the bizarre, twist-riddled last act, and his assured direction helps a lot in keeping the film from spiraling into complete nonsense when things start getting complicated.

There really aren't many filmmakers out there who have established themselves as well as Antal--here he shows incredible inventiveness with both comedy and thrills, and though he has gone in a more mainstream direction since, he's continued to display an immense natural talent in his craft. There may be no modern mainstream filmmaker as immediately impressive as Antal, and here's hoping he continues his hot streak long enough to really get the attention he deserves.

Grade: A

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  1. Patti said...

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  2. marvz said...


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