Haley Bennett Is The Most Important Thing In The Borderlands Movie

Every now and then, I remember that there's a Borderlands movie coming out. It seems like such a strange idea; Borderlands does have some interesting characters, and despite him reducing others to a ball of writhing cringe, I will defend Handsome Jack as one of the best video game villains ever created. Hell, I even like CL4P-TR4P. I'm a Borderlands fan, probably more than I am, say, an Uncharted fan, and despite my reservations I had a great time with Tom Holland's globe-trotting adventures. But I'm still not sure it needs to exist.

I've written about the issues with video game movies recently, when discussing BioShock's upcoming feature. It's difficult to translate video games to movies – Detective Pikachu, Sonic the Hedgehog, Werewolves Within, and Uncharted all ignore conventions, tropes, or core plot points and themes of their original games, and come out the other end of it as a good movie, but not much of an adaptation. That's to their strength, too. Wahlberg might not be much of a Sully, but Sophia Ali is an excellent Chloe yet one of the movie's weakest parts. Tati Gabrielle's Braddock is an entirely new character, yet is the best thing in it. Here's where Borderlands comes in, and why Haley Bennett is so important.

We know pretty much all of the cast for Borderlands right now. Cate Blanchett is Lilith, Kevin Hart is Roland, Jamie Lee Curtis is Tannis, Jack Black (who else?) is Claptrap, and Red Dead Redemption's Benjamin Byron Davis is Marcus. Many of the smaller parts have been cast as well, but Haley Bennett is an unknown. Of the currently available cast list, which includes 16 names at present, Bennett is the only one without a character, and that's because she's playing an entirely new character in Borderlands. She is Borderlands' Braddock.

I like Borderlands. Aside from the occasionally annoying death mechanic, I might even say I love it. It makes me laugh. It's fun. I don't think it translates too well to a movie, and Kevin Hart as Roland is a clear attempt to double down on the humour Borderlands is known for (though Hart argues the opposite) – and this humour only works in the video game space. Borderlands, like most successful video game movies, needs to be prepared to ignore the source material a little bit – maybe even a lot. By making Bennett's new character – all we know is she's tied to Lilith somehow – the focus, the movie can do exactly that. It can keep the nails-on-a-chalkboard humour that we all, despite ourselves, secretly enjoy, but the movie needs to offer a lot more.

Bennett is one of the best 'bubbling under' actors on the scene. Even if you were to list blonde A-list actors under 35, she probably wouldn't be in the top ten or even 15 against the likes of Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Jennifer Lawrence, Anya Taylor-Joy, or Brie Larson. At 34, Bennett is also older than all of those stars, but she has quietly built herself a fine career. Swallow, carried almost entirely by Bennett in solo scenes, is one of the most unnerving movies of this century. She holds her own despite limited screen time in Netflix's star-studded The Devil All The Time and The Magnificent Seven. Her role selection could perhaps be better – Cyrano and The Girl on the Train, the former of which she is especially compelling in, are her two biggest roles to date by stature, and both movies were successful without having the cultural impact of the biggest hits of any of her contemporary stars listed above.

Borderlands could be her launching pad into the stratosphere she deserves to be in. Not every actor harbours ambitions of being the lead in a superhero flick, and with few of her peers able to point to a performance on the level of Bennett's in Swallow, she has every right to be completely satisfied with her career. It doesn't feel like she gets the recognition she's owed though, and if it takes Borderlands to make her a breakout star, then so be it. I imagine Gabrielle will get better opportunities post-Braddock. It inexplicably took Knuckles for some of you to realise Idris Elba is sexy. Who says video game movies are good for nothing?

I have no idea if the Borderlands movie will be any good. There's a lot of star power in the cast, even if Bennett and Blanchett don't immediately seem built for chemistry with Hart and Black. It's also not that cinematic a game, at least compared to Uncharted, but it's significantly more cinematic than Detective Pikachu, so I'm not sure where that leaves us. One way or another, I think the success of the movie will rest with Haley Bennett, and if that's true, fans should rest easy knowing she's a safe pair of hands.

Source: Read Full Article