Remember those blissful teenage years, when you used to amble around life, avoiding the word “long-term” like the plague, and making decisions based on instant gratification? So is the premise of Cruise, Robert Siegel’s latest film. Teleporting back to the 80’s, this feature reminisces on a wileful period of young adulthood where big decisions are hard to come by, but love is shared recklessly.
Gio Fortunado (Spencer Boldman) is an underachieving young adult still living at home with his Italian-American family. Stealing car radios with his literal partner-in-crime Chris Carbone (Lucas Salvagno) by day, and sleeping with different girls by night, the effortlessly suave guy lives an existence of zero responsibilities. He and his friends “cruise” on a daily basis; which in this film, means driving around aimlessly in a showy muscle car on the hunt for attractive girls to score.
All seems to be going well for Gio, mindlessly content in his bubble until he first crosses paths with Jessica Weinberg (Emily Ratojowski). Her initial resistance of him is intriguing to a player used to women falling at his feet, and for the first time, he wades into uncharted territory by catching feelings for this mysterious stranger. As is the way of the world, Jessica rejects him – even going as far as giving the lovestruck guy a fake number – leaving Gio flustered by her refusal, and even more interested in the girl who got away.
“…a destined whirlwind of summer nights where two very good-looking people fall for each other quickly…“
With no viable way to get in touch with Jessica, the spurned lover attempts to move on, somewhat unsuccessfully. Not long after, he runs into Jessica again by chance, only to discover that she is wildly wealthy and the polar opposite of the persona she assumed when they first collided.
Lo and behold, Jessica turns out to be a college girl home from the summer who lives on the “other side of the tracks” from our protagonist, only wandering over to his side of town for adventure. What happens next is a destined whirlwind of summer nights where two very good-looking people fall for each other quickly, endeavoring to make it through life’s expectations in a haze of thrill rides and 80’s trends.
Content-wise, Cruise is dull, with a script that brims of potential but is done injustice by uninspired leads. Emily Ratajkowski suffers as Jessica; for a role intended to make those watching either fall for her, or want to be her, all the actress is capable of here is the opposite. Woefully bland, Ratajkowski blunders through her lines, tempting the viewer to abandon the movie altogether. Thankfully, Boldman is leagues better as Gio, but his performance is stunted by the most substantial fault ailing this production: a lack of chemistry.
You come to an understanding as you observe the two actors’ back-and-forth that Cruise would have been a more enigmatic experience if Boldman and Ratajkowski complimented one another. This just isn’t the case. An unmistakable lack of magnetism between the two leads is the undoing of the whole endeavor, as they never succeed in convincing you that they fit as a pair.
“Stuck in the driveway, missing a persuasive punch and the cast to drive it…“
In light of this, it’s paramount to award credit where it’s due. Contributing a comfortingly nostalgic atmosphere to the flick is the supporting cast. Salvagno as Chris, Gio’s boorish, close-minded sidekick, revives every scene he appears in, as does the delightfully Italian-American Fortunado family. Noah Robbins is priceless as Anthony Panagopoulos, providing welcome comic relief as the tag-along member of Gio’s boys’ club.
Finish-wise, the film has a glossy feel, with Siegel accomplishing his aim of pulling you back into the past with a sort of enviable finesse. Both staging and shooting are spot-on with the theme, something Siegel and cinematographer Noah Greenberg demonstrate a gifted knack for composing. If only this were a silent movie, where we could sit back and rightfully appreciate the images flashing on the screen before us. Despite the aid of a standout supporting cast, the fault in those driving the crux of the story damages such vintage views of New York City beyond repair.
In the 90 minutes it runs for, Cruise fails to provide the pleasure you’d expect from a feature of its production caliber. Stuck in the driveway, missing a persuasive punch and the cast to drive it, the momentum stalls out before it even really gets moving. For nostalgia-sake only, see it, with the knowledge that it is near impossible to relish in its dexterity.
Cruise (2018)Written and Directed by Robert D. Siegel. Starring Emily Ratajkowski, Spencer Boldman, Noah Robbins, Lucas Salvagno, Gino Cafarelli, Katherine Narducci.
4 out of 10 stars