Originally envisioned by writer/director Thomas Ikimi as a low-budget indie with a production budget of right around $20,000 and a no-salary cast working in a modest motel room, Legacy
captured the interest of The Wire's
Idris Elba and before long the film had garnered significant interest in both the funding and distribution areas.
Elba carries the lead role and the film as Malcolm Gray, a Black Ops soldier who goes AWOL after a mission goes awry in Eastern Europe. Holed up in a Brooklyn motel room, Gray has either gone completely insane from his traumatic experience during the mission or is well on his way.
As it turns out, Gray's Darkhammer unit may have been sold out by one of its founders and Gray's brother, aspiring presidential candidate Darnell Gray, Jr (Eamonn Walker) . To make matters worse, Malcolm's wife, Valentina (Monique Gabriela Curnen), appears to be leaning a bit too closely on Darnell for support with her husband missing-in-action.
Troubled by his brother's actions, Malcolm starts working with a bit of a rogue journalist. With Malcolm's mental competency becoming increasingly in question, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish how much of what Malcolm's reporting is truth and how much is his increasingly corrupted mind.
Despite his significantly increased production budget, Ikimi keeps the atmosphere claustrophobic and enveloping with much of the action still taking place within the confines of his Brooklyn motel. This experience is, in itself, a maddening experience yet powerfully captures Gray's post-traumatic mind amidst a world that couldn't possibly understand what he experienced as a soldier.
It's easy to understand Elba's attraction to the role of Malcolm Gray, a multi-layered and complex character whose motivations and experiences never completely unfold until the film winds down. While the ending isn't particularly groundbreaking, Ikimi does a nice job of maintaining the character throughout the film and Elba turns in a strong, convincing performance as a soldier who is either on the edge of madness or he's not.
Ikimi clearly has a style inspired by Hitchcock, the way he stages the film and captures the scenery within the space of the motel room, however, his writing style is a bit too blunt and not nearly ambiguous enough for him to be considered the next Hitchcock. Instead, one would be more apt to acknowledge that he's learned some of his visual style from Hitchcock and added his own directorial signature to it.
In addition to Elba's fine performance, Eamonn Walker's smooth-talking and upwardly mobile politician (the role originally envisioned for Elba) is captivating and Monique Gabriela Curnen shines as Malcolm's wife. D.P. Jonathan Harvey's camera work magnificently utilizes the Red One camera, and Mark Kilian's original music has an appropriately action thriller feeling to it.
After an extended run on the film festival circuit, including Tribeca and winning Best Film at the American Black Film Festival, Legacy
will be released on DVD on December 28, 2010 with distrib Codeblack Entertainment. For more information on the film, visit the Legacy website.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic