When it comes to the biggest and most significant events in history, movies usually don’t do them justice. This is true of the September 11th attacks, whose 20th anniversary is being marked this month. It’s also true of the reviews of movies that try to emulate the excitement of those historic days. Unfortunately, in the case of the 9/11 movie, Robert Pattinson’s Viggo, not even the promise of a blockbuster can save it from being a major disappointment. Even the cast and crew seem to be on trial, because no one involved in making this film wanted it to be bad, but it is badly made and unfocussed, and it never rises above mediocrity.
The Plot Invented Out Of Thin Air
The basic idea behind Viggo comes from two sources. The first is the 2016 documentary Surviving September 11th, which was based on the bestselling book of the same name. It tells the stories of individuals who were directly affected by the 2001 attacks, and follows the survivors as they deal with their loss, the changes in American society, and the continuing threat of terrorism.
The second source of inspiration is the 2007 film Fahrenheit 9/11, which examined the events leading up to the invasion of Iraq. Its director, Michael Moore, and co-writers Jeannette Walls and Charles Randolph sought to portray the events of 9/11 from the perspective of its Arab citizens, and to highlight the way that the United States was unfairly maligned for its role in the attack. They wanted to suggest that the invasion of Iraq was not only predictable, but also justified. Viggo takes this idea and runs with it, inventing a whole new story line out of thin air, and even inventing new characters along the way. This is a common problem with low-budget independent films – the writers have to fill the screenplay with as much story and character as they can, because there’s no one around to give them adequate feedback, and no money to hire professionals for advice. As a result, the story becomes a jumbled mess, with no focus, and bits and pieces of things that happen in other movies, without any logical connection to each other.
9/11 Is All Terrain
The problem with Viggo is that it tries to do too much. It wants to be a serious film, yet is inundated with cheesy one-liners, unfunny jabs at the news media, and a general lack of any kind of edge or focus. Even the most diehard of fans of the late, great Robin Williams might find something to complain about in Viggo. The comedy in it is pretty bad, and it makes zero attempts to be serious or to give insight into the events of September 11th, 2001. Most of the jokes feel forced, and seem to come from nowhere, with characters delivering them line-by-line, like they were on a teleprompter. These improvised jokes may work fine for a sketch comedy show or late-night TV talk show, but not in a movie, where they break the mood of the drama, or even the narrative itself.
Why Viggo Fuelled A Meme
One of the most significant problems with Viggo is that it has no focus or coherence. It meanders from one storyline to the next, jumping from character to character, and joke to joke, with no clear progression or goal. This lack of focus has led to memes being created in protest, highlighting the shortcomings of Michael Moore’s latest film.
For example, here’s an edit of the Viggo opening credits, incorporating the news media bias meme, and here’s a gif of the film’s climax, reworked to suggest the media’s role in propagating false information about the Iraq war.
The Only Bit Of True Imagination In It All
A large part of the film’s problem is that almost everything else is based on fact, with only the most insignificant details changed to give the impression of creative license. The filmmakers even went so far as to get a fake ID to fool the security cameras at the World Trade Center site, as well as the license plates on the cars in the film. While it might not seem like a big deal to get a fake ID, these are the types of details that can help make or break a movie. They show the attention to detail and imagination that went into making the film, but they also show how little this film’s creators had to go on.
Is It Worth Seeing In Theaters Or On Blu-ray?
The trailers and previews for Viggo are mostly dreadful, with no shots of Robin Williams or Kate Winslet, who are both in the film, and they don’t do it much justice. It’s a real shame, too, because the movie could have used the boost in popularity that a BAFTA winner like Williams would have given it. The reviews from critics were also bad, with an Rotten Tomatoes score of 22% (which is not surprising, considering the amount of garbage in it), and a Metacritic score of 45, signifying “generally negative reviews.”
I would advise against seeing Viggo in theaters, where you can still find it, due to its poor quality. However, if you must, try to see it in a large community theater, where you can have a good laugh at the blatant plot holes and absurdities, even if you think that September 11th is a tragedy.