“Haven” gives the Cayman Islands a bad name. This crime drama starts off going nowhere and just gets worse from there. Director Frankie Flowers might know the land like the back of his hand, but he’s one awful filmmaker.
On one end of the Cayman Islands is Carl (Bill Paxton), who has just fled Florida with his daughter (Agnes Bruckner) and a stash of cash. His contact is the duplicitous Mr. Allen (Stephen Dillane), who lends Carl a hand sorting out his problems. On the other end is Shy (Orlando Bloom), a local engaged in a secret love affair with Andrea (Zoe Saldana), much to the anger of her brother, Hammer (Anthony Mackie). When Hammer disfigures Shy in retaliation for deflowering his sister, the young Romeo takes to the dark side of the islands to remove himself from harm’s way.
Boy, Orlando Bloom must love the Caribbean by this point. “Haven” returns the young actor to the cool blue of the tropics, this time without the help of Johnny Depp, undersea monsters, or a magnificent budget. No, “Haven” is far less fun than any story of piracy.
Writer/director Frankie E. Flowers was born and raised in the Cayman Islands, and hopes to form “Haven” into a study into the mindset of life and crime on the islands. Think the erratic, time jumping structure of “Pulp Fiction” lost in the fog of secondhand pot smoke and limp attempts at irony. There are a host of characters out after each other’s throats, and Flowers has no clue how to deal with the confusion he’s created, so he shuffles time around pointlessly, and shakes up the characters without any consideration to where they might land.
“Haven” has that sloppy appearance of a first-time filmmaker; a feeling of just surviving the material pervades the entire production. There is a semi-decent cast gathered, and it’s pretty obvious they took the roles to get a free vacation to paradise. It certainly doesn’t seem like the script roused their imagination. “Haven” moves at a turtle’s pace struggling to arrange a complex jigsaw puzzle with a very simple plot, and while the actors do their thing with minimal effort, Flowers doesn’t know how to match the performances with his absurd script. The picture seesaws between sequences that are outrageously pedestrian (most involving drug use or island thug life) to ones in which the acting is inappropriately flamboyant and completely unmonitored.
It would be easy and blessedly quick to dismiss “Haven” as a mess. It’s something more than that, because a mess could be easily dismissed. As much as I was bored to tears with the drama, I was fascinated by where Flowers was going with this train wreck. My curiosity did not pay off as I hoped, since “Haven” ends just like it begins: unremarkably.Rating: D-