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Monday, April 9, 2018 | Review

Review by Bryan Yentz

Starring Richard Neil, Savannah Liles
Written by Haughey, Brian Vidal
Directed by Haughey, Brian Vidal
High Noon California

Remember that movie MORGAN from 2016? Yes, it was utterly forgettable but, that’s beside the point.

Imagine someone copied that flick but removed all talent, entertainment value and kept the body count at a solid zero. Oh, but you’ve got an incredibly limited (almost non-existent) aspect of telekinesis. Well, if all of this sounds compelling, then you’ve got PRODIGY! A movie that looks way better as a single poster than it does playing as a feature-length film.

PRODIGY begins on a dull note by introducing us to Fonda (Richard Neil) as he’s playing chess (a running theme). He’s commissioned to interview a young girl named Ellie. . .  Much the same way that Kate Mara questions Morgan from the movie MORGAN. They have quibbles, they have retorts and they have blasé psycho-analytical breakdowns of one another. This happens Ad nauseam.  And well, not much else. At all.

The poster art/trailer would have you believe this is about a psycho-mental patient that would rather use her powers for sinister brutality, but as it is, only about two of the eighty-minute runtime depict any sort of supernatural behavior, and even then, that’s kept to a “lookee-I-can-slightly-lift-chairs-n’-stuff” level of ability. Scary, I know.

What’s decried in its synopsis as a “battle of wits” boils down to a battle of bad and passable acting. Our little telekinetic devil Ellie (Savannah Liles) is quite the obnoxious antagonist and comes off like a child-version of Hannibal Lecter. . . If he were poorly acted, worse written and a red-headed girl. Her “intellectual” banter hits all of the key notes of an inexperienced writer crafting a verbal duel between psychiatrist and patient—and nothing more. From the get go, the conversations held between protagonist Fonda and Ellie are eye-rolling in their simplicity; trite in their examinations of humanity. It comes off like a college-level production, rife with college-level writing, acting and go nowhere storytelling. It’s as one-note as they come and nothing more. Allow me to ground all of this by saying that PRODIGY spends 99.9 % of its time within one room.

Again, remember MORGAN? Imagine that feature never leaving the chamber in which our villain is questioned (but again, also remove anything remotely engaging too), and once more, you have PRODIGY.

None of the rhetoric that’s gushed forth offers any insight that the last 50 years of cinema haven’t already covered and the telekinetic potion of Ellie’s character is maintained to a near non-consequential level of shoulder-shrugging. Yeah, she has a big ego. Yeah, she gets angry and can lift stuff. Good job. Even while she preserves this ability of object manipulation, the observing group (separated by a glass pane) are boringly indifferent and one of them even has a running (and absolutely unfunny) gag about having a date that he really needs to get to.

So while they’re not taking it seriously, it’s up to Fonda and Ellie to carry the burden of this almost non-eventful flick. And neither fare well. To be blunt, it’s boring, devoid of stakes and the cool poster art featuring a masked Ellie (was that ripped from  the video game ARMY OF TWO?) is utterly pointless. . . I mean seriously. . . What good does a mask do against a telekinetic when they use their EYES AND MIND? Great job, cover their mouth while they whip you around the room; least they can’t bite you. . .?

As much as I didn’t care for MORGAN, I highly recommend watching that film’s dull grey interior rather than this one. Where that “evil kid gone amok” narrative actually delivered on its premise, PRODIGY settles on pretension.

Or, simply do yourself a favor and see neither.

Bryan Yentz