It had potential. It really did. In fact, there were moments I was actually intrigued and interested in what I was watching.
Ultimately, though, Netflix original “In the Shadow of the Moon” is a film that turns out to be a boring waste of time, which is ironic since it’s a film about time. Kind of. Sorta.
It’s kind of a sci-fi-themed time travel film mixed with 1980s cop thriller. Ish.
The film follows Tommy Lockhart (Boyd Holbrook), a Philadelphia detective over the course of about 25 years as he tries to solve a serial killer that keeps killing even after they’re dead.
Lockhart’s story begins in 1988 when he’s a young officer with a pregnant wife. He’s called to investigate a strange death in which the victim has puncture wounds on her neck and her brains have bled out through the holes on her head.
Two more victims show up across town with the same, umm, symptoms for lack of a better word. Lockhart manages to track the killer (Cleopatra Coleman) to a subway station, where things end badly for her but only after she’s offered cryptic bits like referencing his daughter and using his name.
While all this is happening, Lockhart’s wife has gone into labor, but her story also ends badly but not before she’s delivered a healthy baby girl.
The story takes a time jump, and Lockhart is now a police detective and a single dad. It’s been nine years but the killer, who was smushed by a train nine years before, is back and so are a new round of victims. Lockhart and his partner Maddox (Bokeem Woodbine) go after the killer again, inching closer to figuring out what the hell is going on. The audience hasn’t gotten that far yet, unfortunately.
Another time jump nine years later, and Lockhart is a private investigator who likely hasn’t taken a shower in a while. He’s obsessed with finding out what happened all those years before.
There’s one last time jump, which is when the story is supposed to make sense. Lockhart is gray and living in a car on the beach. He’s estranged from his now-grown daughter and has basically become a crazy hermit who probably hasn’t showered since the nine years before.
If it sounds convoluted, it is. The film tries to be clever and create this fantastical loop that makes you think but it turns ultimately into a convoluted mess that is ridiculously boring. The film had potential, though. Holbrook isn’t a bad actor, but his main goal in this film is to look a bit wide-eyed and paranoid. Woodbine is a fun actor to watch, but he’s relegated to the partner whose only purpose is to react to the main character. Even Michael C. Hall, who I know can kill it (literally) in a thriller — he was in “Dexter,” after all — is bland and I spent more time wondering what kind of accent he was supposed to have than caring about what happened to any of these people.
The film starts off well, as I said. It has the feel of a 1980s thriller where the cops investigate a grisly murder and the leading man — usually played by someone intimidating and well-acted like Denzel Washington, Clint Eastwood, or even James Woods — must track down the murderer before they kill again. There’s a damsel in distress who has big hair and might just be the next victim.
Seriously, the film has that kind of potential, and even if those old movies had a tired formula, at least they kept the viewer engaged. At some point, “In the Shadow of the Moon” just goes down a wormhole of politics and elaborate theories. It’s not fun to watch, and when we finally get the big reveal of why the killer did what she did we don’t care. It’s meant to be emotional or even impactful, but all I could think was: “Thank
goodness. It’s finally over.”