When Cory Monteith passed away last summer, he left behind a pair of films that were meant to help change his onscreen persona. The second of the films to be released, “McCanick,” offers him a role that is a vast departure from that of his “Glee” character, but also an incoherent, convoluted mess of a script.
Taking place over the course of one day, the film’s title character, Eugene McCanick (David Morse), spends his birthday on a rogue mission hunting down Simon Weeks (Monteith), who was recently released from a stint in prison. The two have a history, which only further complicates the journey.
“McCanick” embraces the current trend that favors using the anti-hero as a leading man. Having closed himself off from everyone around him and living alone, McCanick travels down the rabbit hole while visiting past mistakes. The problem with attempting to create this type of character is that there still needs to be some kind of redeeming characteristic in order to keep the audience invested. By the end, when McCanick’s motives are fully revealed, the character becomes a neutered, shell of a man. You would feel sorry for him if so many of his current problems weren’t caused by his own doing.
When a film is able to cultivate an all-star cast, it is usually a masking tool to hide the lack of quality in the script. Even a line-up that includes stellar supporting turns by Mike Vogel, Tracie Thoms, and Rachel Nichols – all of who are sorely underused – can’t hide the plot holes in the script by Daniel Noah. His screenplay is populated by dim witted characters with shaky motives that never fully make sense.
For his part, it’s easy to see why Monteith might have taken the role as a former gay for pay hustler and drug addict on the mean streets of Philadelphia. It’s an easy for him to shake the squeaky clean image that was cultivated from his small screen persona. Noah and director Josh Waller most likely cast the actor because of his name recognition, but he is miscast in the role. Monteith seems to be sleep walking through the role and never has the charisma to own any of the scenes he is in.
“McCanick” is the cinematic equivalent of a kid playing dress up. It aims to be a serious, gritty drama, but it is a hackneyed film that suffers from a lack of polish and experience. It’s unfortunate that the amount of onscreen talent was let down by the lack of it behind the camera. While he didn’t have a long resume, Cory Monteith deserved something better for his last film.