This movie originally came out in 2006. I watched it in the theater, but I don’t actually remember much about it. I’ve had the DVD for years, and only re-watched it recently after re-reading the book for the first time in over 10 years. It was…not great, unfortunately. Part of that is the curse of most faith-based movies, where the production quality isn’t what we normally look for. For example, even though several of the actors I’ve seen in other things (like Marc Blucas), and they were perfectly fine in those other things, most of the acting seemed stiff.
Past that, I had some notes about things that were different from the book that I felt detracted from the story, one that I liked in the movie, and one that was mostly neutral. Fair warning, the rest of this post will be full of spoilers!
- From the very beginning of the movie, the scenes with the bad guy had a ridiculously Saw feeling to them. Since the first Saw had come out only a couple of years earlier, I suspect this might have been on purpose. It just felt a bit too much like a rip off to me.
- The connection between Kevin & Jennifer was almost non-existent in the movie. In the book, she associated him with her brother at first, then came to care about him. By the end, there was a bit of a romance between them that was really understated (which is good, because it happened kinda quickly), but their friendship was strong. That was really lost in the movie.
- The professor that I really liked in the book was a disappointment in the movie. He was barely in it, and definitely didn’t have the same influence on the plot and climax (no influence on the climax, in fact) that he did in the book.
- In the book, with some help from Sam, Jennifer figured plenty of the mystery out on her own. In the movie, she was basically just following along, being fed information. The only real purpose she had was to be Kevin & Sam’s connection to the authorities, because it wouldn’t make sense to us if they were just doing everything on their own.
- Something I did really like about the movie was the way that Samantha came across as Kevin’s protector. I realized even more what her role had been intended to be in the book, though I had only barely picked up on it. In the movie, it came across so much more, though I don’t know if it’s because of her dialog or because of the way the actress played it. Either way, I liked it.
- The end of the movie brought a brand-new scene that I don’t fully understand the need for. The bad guy in the story turned out to be a copycat for the serial killer that Jennifer was chasing, so though she continued on Kevin’s case until the end, it wasn’t the case she was intending to be on (that of the serial killer). The book just let that be it, but the people who made the movie decided that they couldn’t leave the serial killer case unsolved. Not only did they end up catching the serial killer, but they used the extensive stalkery photos they found of the movie’s bad guy to do so. I guess I can’t say this note is completely neutral, because it all felt really contrived to me.
In the end, the movie was only okay. They definitely amped up the excitement and danger for the movie (like a bomb being strapped to a guy’s chest, which did not happen in the book), but what bothered me more was the lack of character-related developments. But that’s not surprising, since I’ve always connected more with characters than with any other element of a story.
Have you read the book? Seen the movie? What are your thoughts on either, or both?