Movie News & Reviews

'Obsessed' ends up as letdown for Elba fans

High on the list of fictional characters I like much better thananyone in real life: Idris Elba as Stringer Bell in HBO's TheWire.

String would, if he ever met me, no doubt grind me into a fine pinkpowder and cut me into a few hundred kilos of Baltimore horse, but Iwould be OK with that, because it would mean he just made an awfullot of money, and Stringer Bell deserves to be happy.

See? That's love right there, which is why I take offense to thesuggestion I have a "man crush" on Elba. Wrong. Our relationship is aflat-out man mad love affair. Yes, it's unrequited, but that's onlybecause he has no clue I exist and would probably be weirded out if hedid. Still, even though our affair is entirely one-sided anddelusional, I can't help but feel hurt when he appears in subworthythrillers like Obsessed.

Idris Elba has pretty much a perfect life: a beautiful wife, a new kidand a newer home, and a high-powered job as an asset manager. He'salso got Ali Larter, a brand-new temp at his office.

Larter falls for Elba the first time they meet. Naturally, he rebuffsher — he's married to Beyonce Knowles, after all — but Larter won't takeno for an answer. The harder he pushes her away, the more determinedher efforts to bag him become.

For far, far too long, said efforts are too low-stakes to be eitherthreatening or interesting. Watching Obsessed muddle throughits momentum-free plot is like listening to your grandpa spend an hourtelling a story about how candy bars used to cost a nickel: you getthe point right away, then have to silently suffer an interminablelecture where the teller doesn't even remember why he started talkingbut is damn sure going to make you pray for his death before he'sdone. Honestly, I feel that way during every conversation, be it thegrocery clerk wishing me a nice day or Keira Knightley asking why Inever return her calls, but I go to the movies to get away from thatsort of thing, not to relive them with a theater full of strangers.

But at least it's got Elba, right? Surely the dude who played thecoldly murderous Adam Smith of the inner-city heroin trade can improveany movie he's in. Even a movie that for some insane reason wrote itslead character as a bland, do-gooding, hot-chick-naysaying dork whosepart doesn't extend beyond continually announcing, "No, I will not makeout with you."

Oh. Bummer.

Well, consider that unsquanderable resource squandered. Not thatwriter David Loughery's subtlety-free dialogue gives anyone elseanything to get excited about, either.

So we've got boring lines spoken by boring characters, a story thatspins its wheels so hard it's grinding rims, and a sense of thrillsthat believes giant winky-face emoticons are the height of creepinghorror. After a period of time that probably only felt like longerthan I've been alive, Obsessed finally gets down to what we allcame to see: a batshit crazy catfight that climaxes with thecombatants playing Hot Lava in a filthy attic.

Excellent times. Too bad it comes after a jillion hours of"Hey, leave me alone, weirdy" and "Uh, I want you so bad," a string ofrepetitive scenes that build to nothing but audience resentment.Cutting 20 minutes would have helped, but Obsessed wouldneed a lot more aid than that before it's worth your time.

Grade: C-