All The Right Elements: Chronicle (2012)

Chronicle is a disgusting movie. [Spoilers]

It’s disgusting how it tries to push your every button for an emotional response.

The protagonists mother is slowly dying, his father is an abusive alcoholic, he is bullied in school, ignored by everyone and used by his “friends”, robbed and beat up.

Let me introduce you to Andrew, the protagonist and spare-time Garry Stu.

Andrew never does anything of consequence in the movie, his existence is purely a device for the writers to justify his killing-spree at the end and to make him a martyr.

People on the Internet jump to the conclusion that Chronicle is an Akira ripoff, I think it doesn’t qualify.

The elements are similar, the accidental superpowers, the rampage at the end, the relationship between Andrew (Tetsuo) and Alex (Kaneda).

However the concept is different and both movies have a completely different goal.

The concept of Tetsuo in Akira is one of dichotomy. Tetsuo is torn between being weak and afraid of his powers, as well as reveling in them.

This inner conflict persists throughout the movie and ends in his self-destruction. Unable to control this inner conflict the power within him becomes uncontrollable (the mutation).

The world Tetsuo lives in is governed by power, be it being the leader of a motorcycle street-gang or a super-powered being. It’s about power and controlling power, dominating it (the titular Akira is held by the government to be controlled).

Andrew on the other hand doesn’t. Chronicle is not trying to tell you a complex and nuanced story. Andrew is a plot-device to get to the carnage at the end.

And I would have been absolutely ok with it were it not for the movie trying to push the concept of Andrews innocence on me.

Especially after Andrew is killed by Alex in the end and has his monologue about Andrew being a good kid and that he is sorry that he needed to do what needed to be done.

It’s manipulative, contrived and preachy.

Andrew is angry and frustrated, it’s all he is. He is not a “good kid”. He does nothing in the movie that shows us “the good” in him.

Yes he obviously loves his mother, but all of us do, and it doesn’t make us automatically “good”. It’s called being a decent human being.

Andrew shows us often that he is quite the opposite in the movie. He has little concern for the life and feelings of others, he is not only a shut-in but also lacks the basics of empathy.

Andrew always thought of himself as superior to others, when he acquires his powers, this trait is only amplified.

The narration in the beginning of the movie shows us how disinterested Andrew is with everything, he isn’t just depressed, abused, shy, he is utterly disconnected from reality.

The movie however insists that Andrew is a “good kid” that was pushed over the edge by society and circumstance.

It comes up with more and more convoluted and contrived scenarios to make Andrew innocent for anything he is doing.

His father in the end of the movie can essentially not be considered a human being anymore.

He is sitting at his sons hospital-bed after he was burned by an explosion, beat into a pulp and arrested, and then he has the audacity to blame him for his mothers death because he left the house and she passed away during that time. And then he demands an apology from him.

Andrew reminds me in this context of Ender Wiggin, from Orson Scott Cards Ender’s Game.

Ender Wiggin also kills people “by accident” or “self defense”, but only because it’s a contrived plot-device by the author to get the point across that he is, in fact, innocent and perfect.

Chronicle similarly creates a story where you simply -can’t- (emotionally) blame Andrew for what he does.

Except, Andrew always had a choice, at least in theory.

There were a myriad ways of “getting back” at his abusers, especially since he -recorded everything- (the films signature hand-cam style) that happened to him.

He recorded being abused by his father, being abused by bullies in school, being almost robbed, being beat up at a party.

Does the police not exist in this universe? Social Service? School Principals? The Internet?

Ok, lets grant him that he could not under any circumstance do these things.

HE HAS SUPERPOWERS! Including the power of flight!

He could have left his life behind at any moment, he could have started anew in a different place, went to Tibet (like he planned to) and meditated with monks.

Andrew isn’t seduced by the “dark side” of power, he already was on that path the second we saw him on screen.

Chronicle creates an innocent killer, a martyr for abused nerds, showing them a power-fantasy they can “relate” to. (incidentally the same analysis was made for Ender’s Game here)

It’s creating a sympathetic version of the Columbine shootings (or other similar tragedies) that the audience can revel in and circle-jerk around their bad childhood.

Disgusting.

Chronicle had all the right elements, but it’s sadly not enough to make it a good movie.

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