Now, before anything is said about Daniel Kwan and Dan Scheinert’s ‘Swiss Army Man’ this is without doubt one of the strangest film’s I have ever come across in my entire lifetime of watching movies, which is quite the achievement. So with this in mind I can only come to the conclusion that this one will completely divide opinion between ‘Weird Genius’ and ‘What did I just watch’. Just thought I’d mention that.
Released back in 2016 ‘Swiss Army Man’ follows an inherently bizzare let alone unsettling premise and theme which does absolutely everything in its power to completely derail any idea that a proceeding a chain of events leading to a logical conclusion was to follow. Which, to some may prove to be just too much but in many ways it also felt like a breath of fresh air to watch a film in which for the most part, you grasp its core premise yet have quite literally no idea what is going to occur in the next scene. It is absolutely impossible to categorize the experience of this film and in a sense that’s why its such a rewarding one.
Let me just set the scene as to educate you on exactly why this is the case. The film opens by showing it’s protagonist Hank attempting to commit suicide after being clearly stranded on a deserted island, however in the process he notices the body of Daniel Radcliffe, the dead but flatulent body mind you. He then proceeds to mount the body and use the mans farts in a glorious gassy miracle to ride back towards land. Yes, you read that correctly. Once reaching mainland Hank and his now sidekick dead body whom he names Manny embark on a journey through the wilderness to reach society.
Now whilst that may seem like a complete trainwreck of a film the direction taken on this one is yes without doubt risky, however with strong lead performances from both Danielle Radcliffe, whom once again proves his value outside of his infamous role as Harry Potter coupled with Paul Dano in a role that completely changes the usual protagonist into a completely new acting job entirely, there are a lot of good things to be said about ‘Swiss Army Man’. Without doubt the fully committed performances from both leads is why this film is able to achieve its goal with a far more unsettling and profound response from any viewer. Not to mention the fact that Danielle Radcliffe performed nearly all of his own scenes in the mud and on the ground playing a literal dead body.
‘Swiss Army Man’ doesn’t make major usage of setting or impressive visual effects but instead opts for a far more primal feel to evoke response from audiences, whether that be shock, laughter or discomfort and in many cases all of the above. For the type of film ‘Swiss Army Man’ attempts to be it can’t deemed a creative failure and you just absolutely have to hand it to Radcliffe and Dano for their willingness to do whatever it takes for their art, although by the same token it is understandable why some may find this one a tad too far.
However well this film does in it’s mission to both entertain and unsettle, there definitely are moments when surely even the most intrigued and appreciative viewers would find unnecessary and hindering to the experience, something which was inevitably going to happen when pushing the line of what is and isn’t too much.
Some scenes feel somewhat dragged out and perhaps could’ve been wrapped up far quicker and allowed more time for other events to occur. The jokes of the film do also feel old after a certain point and whilst the piece in a general sense definitely does grow on you there may be points particularly through its duller mid-section where you may wish things progressed a bit faster. Although that being said with a strong (but highly confusing) ending that in some ways makes up for previous shortfalls ‘Swiss Army Man’ may just grow on you and will definitely remain in your head for quite a while.
There are very few films which completely revoke the ability for a viewer to class it into any genre, but that is exactly what ‘Swiss Army Man’ is so unbelievably successful in doing via it’s risk-taking and original methods that never fail to provoke almost every emotion there is to muster. Through committed and impressive performances in the lead roles batted with a surprisingly depth-filled plotline upon further thought, this is without doubt one of the most peculiar films going around, but perhaps that is its genius. Although smartly written ‘Swiss Army Man’ at times falls short of the mark but it’s intriguing outside-of-the-box approach has to be respected.