For those who weren’t aware, Ricky Gervais hasn’t given up on his movie career yet. Special Correspondents is the most recent in a long line of mediocre and disappointing films that Gervais has produced.
Frank Bonneville (Eric Bana) is an arrogant but charismatic radio journalist working for a local station in New York. His boss (Kevin Pollak) decides to send Frank to Ecuador, to report on the beginnings of a civil war. Ian Finch (Ricky Gervais), a nice-guy-loser-sound-engineer whose wife (Vera Farmiga) recently left him, is partnered with Frank and manages to throw away both of their passports. With both men at risk of being fired, they fake their reports and stay with the couple (America Ferrera, Raúl Castillo) who own the bar across the road from the radio station. They end up pretending to be held hostage and eventually have to bail themselves out of the trouble they have started along the way.
I can’t think of one reason to watch this movie. It wasn’t complete crap, but there was just no value in it. I’ve watched it once and I don’t think it’ll ever cross my mind again. I expected a lot more. That is much the same with Gervais’ entire movie career. His filmography makes me wonder, “Why does this talented comedian keep doing this?” Gervais has dominated the realms of radio, stand up, TV and hosting gigs. Is the movie thing for the money? Or what? Because his time and effort could be better spent elsewhere.
Some reviews refer to Special Correspondents as a satire. If it was meant to have an element of satire, it was the weakest, least biting piece of work I have ever seen. It was just such a throw away film. Vera Farmiga plays Ian’s wife who uses his disappearance to start a singing career. That had the potential to be entertaining but of course it barely scratched the surface. America Ferrera’s sweet character, Brigida, was probably the best bit of the movie and that’s mostly because they made bank on her accent and misunderstandings. The rest of the cast was wasted on one-dimensional characters, particularly Eric Bana who played his character well, but was left with nowhere to go. Even so, the rest of the performances still managed to upstage Gervais, whose seeming need to perpetually play the underdog wore thin.
The entire plot of the movie whittles down to Ian and Frank sitting in a room. I can’t imagine what Gervais was thinking writing this screenplay, because it just doesn’t go anywhere. He put two characters in a series of situations, but aside from that they have nothing to do with each other. There’s no decent character development, or even at the very least any sense of camaraderie between the two. The most that Bana’s character contributes to the story is that he spurs on Gervais’ love story. Speaking of which, why does Ricky Gervais always water movies with promising premises down to love stories? I’m looking at you, The Invention of Lying.
All in all, Special Correspondents is nothing special. It’s a nothing film that wastes a good cast and premise. I don’t have any strong emotions towards it and I’m going to continue living my life as it was, before I watched it. I’m sorry Eric Bana and Ricky Gervais, I love you, but I just can’t do this.
Special Correspondents (2016): 5/10