Toronto After Dark 2013: Odd Thomas Review
Based on the acclaimed Dean Koontz novels of the same name, Odd Thomas, written and directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, The Mummy Returns) is unfortunately flawed. While I haven’t read the books, and can’t attest to its strength as an adaptation, it fails as often as it succeeds as a film. With an incredibly strong lead cast in Anton Yelchin, Addison Timlin, and Willem Dafoe, it delivers outstanding performances, stellar chemistry, and piles of entertainment. Where it fails is in the overuse of CGI, a flailing supporting cast, and poorly executed plot twists. Nonetheless, in typical Sommers style, it moves a mile a minute and is a pile of fun.
Odd Thomas is an odd 20-something young man. Yes, that really is his name. Odd. A clairvoyant with the ability to commune with the dead and sense looming danger, he attempts to keep a low profile by living in the small town of Pico Mundo, where little ever happens. That is, of course, until now. Something tells Odd that all hell is about to break loose on his little town, and it’s a race against the clock to figure it out and prevent the promised carnage.
Odd Thomas is unfortunately one of those films plagued by stellar performances, and little else. Yelchin, Dafoe and Timlin all offer stellar chemistry, and manage to make the often stilted and forced dialogue appear as charming as was likely intended.
Yelchin as the titular Odd is a scene-stealer, as always. You could have him recite Shakespeare in a monkey suit and he’d still snag an Oscar. One of my favourite young actors, he can do no wrong. He delivers a touching performance, maintains chemistry with every actor he shares a scene with, and lends an air of effortless charm to a potentially disastrously silly script. He is a gem.
Dafoe as Police Chief Wyatt Porter is surprisingly soft. He gives a tender performance, and portrays a caring, compassionate father-type figure to Odd. Partners in crime, so to speak, Dafoe and Yelchin team beautifully. Their skill allows for outstanding chemistry, and effortless comedic timing.
Stormy Llewellyn should bring Addison Timlin some recognition. At least I hope it does. While she wasn’t given a ton to work with, she keeps up with Yelchin. Charismatic and charming, she’s a great compliment to the oddity that is … well, Odd.
Where it falls short is in the overuse of CGI, the cheesy and poorly executed plot turns, and the shoddy supporting cast. Signs of looming death, the Bodachs are more annoying to focus on than effectively terrifying. The senseless use of CGI in fight scenes and the diner – Odd inexplicably squeezes a strange liquid concoction into a glass for the Chief in a manner that defies gravity – robs the audience of the ability to succumb to the moment. I found it ripped me out of my leap of faith just as I was about to jump.
The frequent shift in plot turns happened so choppily that it, too, distracted from the task at hand. The constant onslaught of “but wait, there’s more!” tone was almost laughable. Nico Tortorella and Kyle McKeever are terrible villains, looking more like they belong in an Abercrombie and Fitch ad than on screen. Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle) is overwrought as Viola, coworker of Odd at the local diner. Unfortunately, she does little more than serve her purpose.
In spite of its shortcomings, the performances stand out and make Odd Thomas a film worth watching, if only for entertainment value.