REVIEW: Special Correspondents (2016)

Special_Correspondents release poster

The following is a review of Special Correspondents, a Netflix Original Film.

Prior to the release of this film, Netflix had already released four original films – Beasts of No Nation; The Ridiculous 6; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny; Pee-wee’s Big Holiday – and not all of them had worked. In fact, I have to admit, I’ve been worried about these original films ever since I saw The Ridiculous 6, which I thought was absolutely awful. But I did like both Beasts of No Nation and Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, so I had some hope for Ricky Gervais’ Special Correspondents. Sadly, Special Correspondents is a tedious disappointment.

Special Correspondents is a remake of a French comedy from 2009 (Envoyés très spéciaux), and it follows two employees at a small radio station in New York: journalist Frank Bonneville (played by Eric Bana) and sound engineer Ian Finch (played by Ricky Gervais). One day, Frank and Ian are sent to Ecuador to cover a political uprising for the radio station, but when Ian loses the tickets and their passports, they decide to press their luck by faking Ecuadorian news reports from a small café.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never seen the French comedy, but I thought the premise was really interesting. I thought there was a lot to work with here, and the stellar cast gave me a lot of hope. Unfortunately, Eric Bana, Vera Farmiga, and America Ferrera were all wasted on a pretty uninteresting final product. I really, really like Ricky Gervais, but this film didn’t do any of the filmmakers or the actors justice. It comes off as tedious, lazy, predictable, and largely unfunny satire.

Now, I did mention that the film isn’t all that funny, but the few moments that actually were amusing, really worked for me. There’s a moment where America Ferrera and Raul Castillo’s characters have to pretend to be Ecuadorian civilians, and are told to just say anything in Spanish, and when the characters then blurt out “Real Madrid!” and “Julio Iglesias!”, I really enjoyed what I was seeing and hearing.

But the thing is that as the film goes on, you stop caring for the main characters. Bana’s character has a secret that he is keeping from Gervais’s character, and I never found myself being remotely interested in it being revealed or discussed. Later, in the climax of the film, we see the Special Correspondents‘s version of Ecuador, and it is really unimpressive and uninteresting. Sadly, nothing about Special Correspondents is particularly memorable or special.

4.5 out of 10

– I’m Jeffrey Rex

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