MRR Review: "Goodbye World"

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James and Lily live off the grid, raising their young daughter in a cocoon of comfort and sustainability. When a mysterious mass text ripples its way across the country, triggering a crippling, apocalyptic cyber attack, their home transitions from sheltered modern oasis to a fortress for the estranged old friends that show up at their door for protection and community.
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Rating: NR
Length: 99 minutes
Release Date: April 04, 2014
Directed by: Denis Hennelly
Genre: Comedy / Drama

"Goodbye World" is a post-apocalyptic drama that delves into the lives of its characters. The film explores the relationships of several quirky individuals in the wake of a massive cyber attack that leads to a nationwide loss of connection and failure of the nation's power grids. This is a thoughtful film that combines an intriguing premise with engaging dialog and convincing acting to bring audiences a cinematic experience that is more than worthwhile.

All is as it should be in the United States until a cryptic text message that reads "Goodbye World" is sent to cell phones across the nation. Soon after, power grids everywhere shut down, and the country enters a state of panic and chaos. Audiences then meet James, played by Adrian Grenier, and Lily, played by Kerry Bishé. They are a married couple who have raised their daughter away from civilization in a home equipped with a well-stocked medicine cabinet, its own water supply and a number of other emergency features and supplies. They are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their friends Nick, played by Ben McKenzie, and Becky, played by Caroline Dhavernas.

When they arrive, it is clear that Nick and Becky, who are two uptight individuals who must have everything in its place, are very different from the laid-back, nature-loving James and Lily. It is not long before the exchanges among these four individuals become heated as the past begins to resurface. Lily's past engagement to Nick and the bitter end to a business relationship between James and Nick begin to create a hostile atmosphere. Several other characters, including an activist and biker named Beni, played by Mark Webber, join the group as they are seeking shelter. The ideological and political debates build atop the already heated personal matters.

Although the friends continue to quibble about past disputes, a greater threat emerges when a group of thugs, driven to extreme measures due to the circumstances, want their own slice of James and Lily's own little utopia. They tell the home's inhabitants that they must prepare their stockpile of medicine to give to them within the next 24 hours. The impending deadline puts every character on edge, and James fears that Lily is being tempted back into the arms of her old flame. This leads James to a rash decision that puts his very life in danger, and his existence then hinges on the help of one unexpected individual.

"Goodbye World" offers a few action sequences, but more than anything, it is a psychological drama and character study. As each unique character is introduced, audiences are compelled to figure out how each feels about the other. The messy tangle of relationships and personalities makes for some hilarious moments, but it also provokes thought. Director Denis Hennelly uses this to create an ever-tense atmosphere to draw in the viewer.

This film does not center on the chaos and destruction following the attack. Instead, it explores how a group of friends are affected by the societal breakdown on nearly every level. The close-up, personal approach works well for the film, aiding it in exploring the deeper questions that surface in the wake of the event. Old wounds resurface, and once-respected ideals seem irrelevant. The film also examines the different ways in which individuals react to a catastrophic event, uncovering what these people boil down to when survival becomes a major concern.

Despite its promising plot and standout cast, "Goodbye World" does not deliver on the level that audiences expect. The character studies are fascinating. However, most of the individuals portrayed in the film often seem whiny and narcissistic as they tear open now-inconsequential old wounds for no discernible reason. Although this is often frustrating, it becomes less of an issue when the viewer looks beyond the tension on the surface and sees a group of old friends trying desperately to cling to whatever once made sense to them.

The film may have otherwise been mediocre were it not for the talented actors who bring each character to life. Adrian Grenier, best known for his roles in "Entourage" and "The Devil Wears Prada," gives an excellent performance as the brave and ever-prepared James. Kerry Bishé of "Argo" and "Grand Piano" fame delves into her role with passion and emotion, and Ben McKenzie plays the charming Nick with the perfect amount of subtlety.

"Goodbye World" may not be the post-apocalyptic thriller that audiences expect, but those going into the film with open expectations are sure to be pleasantly surprised with this thoughtful film. This unique adventure explores the deterioration of minds and ideals when communication is cut and chaos sets in. For audiences looking for an intriguing, intelligent film, this is a great choice.