Quick poll dear stargazers; being a hetero male, am I way too excited about the release of Magic Mike? First I feature Step Up in honor of Channing Tatum and today it’s all about Matthew McConaughey. I’m sure a lot of people will always love Matthew as David Wooderson, but my favorite role has to be Fenton Meiks in the vastly under-appreciated thriller, Frailty.
FBI Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe) returns to his office to meet Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey). Doyle is in charge of the “God’s Hand” serial killer investigation and Meiks has come to out his brother (Levi Kreis) who he believes is the culprit. Dubious, Doyle listens as Fenton tells of the happy life he and his brother had with their Dad (Bill Paxton) until the summer of ’79 when he was visited by an angel of God. According to Dad, he would find three weapons to aid his mission and that together, the three of them would seek out and destroy the demons named by the angel. Fenton thought Dad had gone crazy, but Adam’s faith never faltered.
Frailty is a brilliantly written and impressively crafted freshman feature from writer Brent Hanley and director Bill Paxton. Told primarily via flashbacks with McConaughey’s character bridging the events through narration, the structure builds excellent tension and paints an ever-darkening outlook for Fenton.
Always adept at playing slightly askew characters, Paxton comes from behind the camera to don the mantle of Dad Meiks. The combination of his wild eyes and his serious tone makes viewers fearful for the fate of the young Fenton (Matt O’Leary) and young Adam (Jeremy Sumpter) despite dad’s reassurances to the contrary. I always enjoy the deep voice and authoritative glare of That Guy Powers Boothe and he doesn’t disappoint here. Frailty hinges on McConaughey’s performance. Usually tapped to play the hunky, somewhat vapid love interest, his quiet, haunted portrayal is completely absorbing.
With its religious anchoring and dismal subject matter, Frailty may not be for all audiences. A shame really since Paxton’s direction not only yields an engrossing thriller, but also captures some beautifully dramatic shots. Not giving anything away, there’s a particular shot from the final moments that always comes to mind; it’s dark, ominous, and visually astounding. If you’ve seen Frailty, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Frailty isn’t for everyone as evidenced by how few went to see it during its theatrical run. As exceptionable as it is, if you passed on it then, watch it immediately. If you’re looking for a film where Matthew McConaughey flaunts his expressive eyes and acting chops instead of his chiseled pecs and pearly whites, then look no further.