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– by Daniel Tafoya

Armie Hammer gives one of the best performances of his career in the psychological thriller Wounds. As a man starting to lose his mind after finding a strange cell phone in the bar where he works, Hammer reminds us that’s he’s not just a big hunk with a pretty face. Ranking with his turns in The Social Network and Call Me By Your Name, his portrayal of Will in Wounds is great work and engulfs the viewer in his character’s mental downward spiral.

Will is a bartender at a place called Rosie’s, down in New Orleans. He has his regulars, including a young woman, Alicia, that’s he’s clearly smitten by. He drinks with his customers and has a generally good time on the clock until one night a brawl breaks out, injuring a man pretty badly. Some teens who were there leave a phone behind, which Will finds. What is on it in terms of pictures and videos is deeply disturbing. He shows it to his girlfriend, played my Dakota Johnson, and both get caught up in what or who could be behind the gruesome things they see there. Both of their minds start to unravel, and Will begins to see things around him that may or may not be real. We follow him as he tries to find the phone’s owner and sort out what could be the reason behind the power of the images and why they’re leading to such turmoil and anguish in his mind.

Armie Hammer is magnetic in the lead of Wounds. As I mentioned his other great performances before, you’ll notice they were all in supporting roles. Here though, he shows himself quite capable of leading a movie and making the viewer feel all that he is experiencing. We join him for the many disturbing events that transpire after the bar fight and wish for his safety while his whole world falls apart around him. A good actor ups the moviegoer’s empathy up with an emotionally sensitive portrayal, and Hammer definitely does that here.

Zazie Beetz as Alicia and Dakota Johnson, as his girlfriend Carrie, both provide great acting support. Johnson, in particular, ends up on a similar track as Will, mentally devolving as she is caught up in the psychological torment caused by her involvement in the film’s mystery.

Director Babak Anvari takes us down the road of similar previous films, like Jacob’s Ladder. Capably getting across onscreen a character’s unreliable, complicated and ever shifting psychological state is a tall order, but he gamely takes on and succeeds at the challenge. His choice in casting Hammer was a genius stroke and one that pays off, in spades.

Wounds is firstly a showcase for Hammer’s acting talents and secondly, an engrossing look into the unraveling of a person’s mind.

Hammer, Johnson and the rest of the cast, teamed up with the talented director Anvari, delighted this viewer with the end product of their efforts, and I recommend checking it out on Hulu, where it was just released.

Recommend if you liked: Jacob’s Ladder, The Shining, Enemy

FINAL GRADE: B+

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