There's only one dream in Jack's life - to be a gangster. When he seems to be getting a foot into the game, he accidently kills an assistant he was given. Now Jack's on the run from the most dangerous gangster around and his goons. Unfortunately he doesn't get far, and is now going to suffer his punishment: be chained to a tree in the middle of nowhere until he's dead and rotting.
I let "Asylum" lay in my pile of stuff to review for a while, much because I wasn't sure what I would have to say about a movie with the subtitle "I Want To Be a Gangster". It just seemed like an odd movie for me to review, and an odd movie for Synapse to release. Finally, I was forced into doing it by Preston (very gently forced, though). I can see now why this independent thriller landed in my lap, as it's way above it's bland title and terrible subtitle.
Jack (his real name is something French like Jean-Jacques, but he probably felt he was too cool to use it) is a young man who is desperate to become a big-time gangster. After he and his partner-in-crime are caught and his partner is killed off for running his mouth, he is thrown into the world of crime for real - just not on the right side of it all. He's recruited to a gang ("gang" is the right name for a group of gangsters, right?) but has to kill a man before they can trust him. This is when Jack decides to double-cross him - and succeeds at doing so. He wanted to be with the big guys, not these middle-ground gangsters. Yet again, he's in luck and is able to join with the baddest of the baddest. This gangster man chops off heads if he is double-crossed! Yeah, mean motherfucker right there. Jack is given an assistant and Jack has to make sure he is up to task before they set out for the real thing. Things go to shit for little Jack, and this assistant is accidently killed. Now, as you might expect, Jack has to get the fuck away! Do you need another little change of plot? Okay, fine! They find Jack, and the boss decides his punishment should be to be chained to a tree until he dies. This is where the movie really starts - the rest of the movie is set by that tree.
I personally feel the movie could've taken a shorter route to get to the tree. It takes a lot of turns before it gets there, and a few of them are interesting - most are silly, predictable and unnecessary steps. Either way, the movie starts off good enough and manages to keep our interest up until we find Jack chained by the tree, although just barely. It gets more fun once he's by the tree, but it also slows down tremendously. If you want a quick action movie then this isn't it, but the early parts of it make it seem that way.
The look of the movie is very grainy with sepia-ish colors, which is pretty common in independent films. I have never been a fan of that myself, but it doesn't make this experience any less. I suppose you can say it fits with "Asylum", unlike most random horror movies.
For the most part, "Asylum" is a decent and quite enjoyable movie. It has its own little thing going and it's definitely a worthy watch. It has a few really stupid scenes (mostly scenes where someone is killed), but you can overlook them if you expect entertainment over everything else. It's a much better movie than I thought it would be, but never manages to be anything above an alright movie experience. Give it a shot if you're in the mood for something a little different.