Insight Image


By Christian Gallichio | August 11, 2021

Deploying a non-linear structure and a compelling set-up, Livi Zheng and Ken Zheng’s Insight follows Jian (Ken Zheng, who also penned the picture) and his brother Bao (Jonny Siew), who share the gift of foresight. Their abusive father exploited their ability to see into the future and feel each other’s pain to gamble on fights in Indonesia. After escaping their troubled childhood, Jian and Bao take opposite life paths.

Jian joins a special forces team, using his precognition to catch criminals, while Bao gets caught up with Vortex, a nefarious tech company. Upon learning that his brother has seemingly committed suicide, Jian travels to L.A. to investigate Bao’s death and the secret of Vortex’s technology and founder/tech bro/ martial artist Wallace Jackson (Sean Patrick Flannery). Working with police officer Abby (Madeline Zima), Jian uncovers a nefarious plot to control the entire population.

“…Abby [and] Jian uncover a nefarious plot to control the entire population.”

Despite this compelling introduction, the film awkwardly attempts to marry action with lo-tech sci-fi. Indonesian siblings Livi and Ken Zheng’s first outing as directors is a forgettable, bland feature that, unfortunately, wastes the talent of several actors. This is most true of Zima, whose baffling co-starring role hopefully represents a blemish on an otherwise good CV. Coming out only looking marginally better, Keith David, Tony Todd, John Savage, and Sean Patrick Flannery round out a cast that oddly foregrounds Ken Zheng. While the role showcases his athleticism, the fatal mistake of Insight is in casting Zheng as the lead. He blandly recites his own words as if seeing them for the first time. His acting style is best described as stilted, as everyone else dials up their reactions, perhaps hoping to overcompensate.

The only one having any fun is Flannery, who is so over-the-top that he seemingly read the nonsensical script and decided that he was going to do everything in his power to earn that paycheck. Having lost track of his career somewhere after The Boondock Saints, it’s nice to see him still out there, giving it his all. His character schemes to use mind-control to take over the world’s population or something – frankly, the plot is as ludicrous as they come. By the time he’s screaming at his underlings and fist-fighting Jian on a helipad during the climax, he’s already stolen the show.

Insight (2021)

Directed: Livi Zheng, Ken Zheng

Written: Ken Zheng

Starring: Ken Zheng, Madeline Zima, Tony Todd, Keith David, Sean Patrick Flannery, etc.

Movie score: 1/10

Insight Image

"…an amalgamation of other movies..."

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