‘Chariot’ Review – Sci-Fi Thriller Is More Frustrating Than Entertaining

The Plot

Adam Sigal’s Chariot is set in a near future in which an all-powerful corporation oversees the process of reincarnation. When a young man develops an unnerving obsession with a woman he loved in a past life, one of the corporation’s doctors is determined to fix him before it’s too late.

Harrison (Thomas Mann) is plagued by cryptic dreams. As it turns out, the actions of his past life are haunting him. Dr. Karn (John Malkovich) is a doctor who vows to help him, but has his own plans when it comes to preventing reincarnated individuals from interfering with the the present, and ultimately, the future. As fate would have it, the hotel that Harrison is staying at is full of people with their own odd afflictions. It’s there that Harrison befriends Maria (Rosa Salazar) and is intrigued by her eccentric personality and lively nature. As the two grow closer, it becomes apparent that she’s more connected to what’s happening to him than he could have ever imagined.

John Malkovich as Dr. Karn in the thriller, CHARIOT, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.

The Acting

I want to start off by saying that most of the acting here is pretty good, especially that of Malkovich and Salazar. Both actors really give it their all, and one can’t help but feel like their talents would have served them better in a different project. Good acting can’t save a convoluted and confusing script. Mann’s acting left a lot to be desired. Many times it felt as if the actor was just as confused as the character. Many of his lines don’t land they way they’re intended to. It was very jarring and took me out of the film.

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(L-R) Thomas Mann as Harrison Hardy and Shane West as Rory Calhoun in the thriller, CHARIOT, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.

Overall Thoughts

One good thing I can say about the film is that it’s beautifully shot. The opening sequence alone, set in 1840, stands out as a very visually pleasing part of the film. There are several great shots as the mystery of the movie unfolds that will have viewers questioning reality right alongside the protagonist. The use of color in several scenes adds both a serene and foreboding feeling.

Did this have the potential to be a great film? Absolutely. But there are some writing choices that make it hard to enjoy. When a film about reincarnation drops the topic for most of the film, only to reintroduce it haphazardly toward the film’s conclusion, you know something isn’t right. The movie is unsure of its own message. As sad as it is to say, I’m not sure I would have understood this movie had I not read the synopsis before going in.

Chariot is ultimately a movie full of great ideas, and it could have executed all of them well had the writing been better. There’s some great acting and beautifully shot scenes that might redeem the lackluster storyline in the eyes of the average moviegoer. Is it the worse science fiction film out there? No. Will you be left feeling like you’re trying to put together a puzzle you never received all the necessary pieces to? Absolutely.

Saban Films will release the thriller CHARIOT in Theaters, On Demand and Digital on April 15th.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZogQI4–5Zk]

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