A Silence of the Lambs knock off by way of generic TV police procedural would be the last place I'd expect to find John Cusack. The Factory was shot way back in 2008 and is finally being released direct to DVD after years of delays. That type of news typically doesn't bode well for most films, and Cusack's latest is no exception. Lazy performances and a weak script prevent The Factory from being anything other than a mild blip on the thriller radar.
Over the last three years, Buffalo cop Mike Fletcher (John Cusack) and his partner Kelsey Walker (Dexter's Jennifer Carpenter) have been investigating a series of prostitute disappearances without making any real headway. Just when a break in the case hits, the abductor (Dallas Roberts) kidnaps Mike's daughter, forcing the investigating duo to shift gears and fight against time as the clock ticks. It's really not a bad setup despite the very pedestrian nature of the plot. Unfortunately, the film quickly unravels with an unnecessary split narrative and some painfully cliché plot twists.
The big problem is that Dallas Roberts' character is revealed as the villain in the opening scene of the movie. This effectively zaps the rest of the movie of any sort of suspense because we already know who the killer is. The tension now relies on the chase but that only works if we understand and ultimately root for the protagonist involved. Cusack's cop is a borderline obsessed psycho with anger problems and poor parenting skills to boot. So much time is spent teasing what the villain is actually doing with these women that we never get to know anyone well enough to figure who's good and who's evil aside from the obvious stereotypical character traits.
To his credit, Dallas Roberts really does try to make every moment of screen time count with sinister grins and a thick, over-the-top accent. The visuals are suitably grimy and occasionally creepy, but it just isn't enough to distract from the subpar script that barely meets CSI standards. By the time The Factory ends with a grossly miscalculated twist, you'll have already checked out. Considering the talent involved, I expected at the very least an average cop thriller; instead, I got a boring, mess of a movie that doesn't give enough of an effort to even warrant a curiosity watch. The disc comes with no extra features and even forgets basic DVD utility options such as "Scene Selection".