I’ll say this about Split – unlike most movies out there it’s not afraid to take chances. Daringly experimental in style but unbearably boring to watch, I imagine it will be on many “What was Hollywood Thinking?” lists that typically appear at the end of the year.
Split takes the basic form of the medical mystery, or at least that’s the only way I know how to explain it. There are countless scenes of dialogue between men in labcoats who appear to be doctors (though they are never identified by name or title). The dialogue included a lot of inscrutable medical terminology and slang that for the life of me I couldn’t make heads or tails of.
The doctors seemed to be discussing the diagnosis and treatment of the main character. According to the credits, the main character is played by one of my favorite actors: Samuel L. Jackson, a true Hollywood legend. But because he doesn’t speak at all and his face is wrapped in bandages for the entire duration of the movie, it could have been played by Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker, Delroy Lindo or any number of other actors and I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.
The movie’s twist ending didn’t surprise me at all simply because I had no idea what was going on. So I just didn’t care that the doctors had been overlooking the bandaged man’s most conspicuous injuries the whole time. And during the big reveal I had to Google the words “groinal” and “grundle” which really lessened the emotional impact overall.
TL;DR – A courageous attempt to scramble the standard Hollywood thriller formula is marred by too many obscure medical dialogues and too many bandages on Samuel L. Jackson’s face.
What the rest of the critics are saying:
“The incapacity of psychiatry to help those who suffer very peculiar mental and physical deformities gives the movie its theme and also an explanation of why the filmmakers made a movie this incomprehensible.” – Akintayo Tomoloju, Wall Street Journal
“Devoid of even the faintest whiff of coherency, originality, or purpose, Split manages to be at once overly contrived and entirely insensible.” – Abimbola Ogundipe, Chicago Sun-Times
“The film’s synchronous evocation of both the moral depravity at work betwixt society’s deceptively alluring surfaces and the pallid inadequacy of the neoliberal technocratic order to defend against that selfsame depravity is the special ingredient that gives it a certain joie de vivre discreetly elevating it above the cusp of an old-fashioned genre exploitation flick.” – Ngugi Ukala, indieWIRE
“I did not understand anything that happened in this movie.” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com
“Look, if you want to see Samuel L. Jackson in action you’ve come to the wrong movie because his face is covered in bandages and he doesn’t say a single word at any point during the entire two hours.” – Dambudzo Nwabueze, Entertainment Weekly
“I’ve never seen a movie so unsettled by its own pretentiousness.” – Kadaria Ezeigbo, AV Club
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