It’s rare that a thriller comes along and pulls you into the world of a movie in a way that really makes you experience the protagonist’s fear. Try as it might though, The Odds is not one of those rare exceptions. Set against the oxymoronic backdrop of a “high stakes high school gambling ring,” the story spins a semi-decent mystery but suffers from a lack of logic and sympathetic characters we can identify with.
The film centers on Desson (Tyler Johnston), who we know is cool because he has a slow-motion entrance, wears wayfarers and resembles a young Tom Cruise. He and his friend Barry (Calum Worthy) are heavily ensconced in a teenage betting racket that includes fixed wrestling matches, card games and a craps table with dice even cooler than Desson, illustrated again by the slow motion employed every time they’re thrown. The meat of the story begins when Barry apparently commits suicide due to his mounting debts. A phone message leads Desson to believe his friend was in fact murdered, a suspicion which we as an audience already know is correct, since this clearly isn’t going to be a film about teen suicide. Instead of going to the police with this information, Desson decides to mount his own ill-advised investigation which results in him getting punched in the face… a lot.
One of the main problems with this story is that the characters have no one but themselves to blame for their troubles. They are privileged, middle-class Canadian kids who dig themselves into a hole for no apparent reason apart from boredom. It’s also hard to take a lot of the events seriously when they keep getting interrupted by Desson’s detentions. As the film goes on, we realize that slow motion entrances, trendy sunglasses and Cruise-like cockiness aside, there is nothing very cool about Desson.
Anyone who has read my last couple of reviews knows that I find it difficult to write about a Canadian film without commenting on the state of our national cinema in general. It’s so difficult for the few features that get made to find an audience that financing them becomes next to impossible. It’s because of this unfortunate cycle that I take no pleasure in pointing out this movie’s many shortcomings.
I may, however, take a little pleasure in mentioning that the movie’s highlight is an unexpected, well-executed, kick to the dick. Apart from that, writer-director Simon Davidson deserves credit for getting his script realized and finding distribution for the finished product beyond the festival circuit and rep cinemas. In doing so he’s already beaten the odds.