David Mamet’s most controversial work. Cringe at William H. Macy’s humanity. A film fest fave.
There’s a reason they’re called corporate headhunters. In a culture dominated by fast-paced technology and uncontrolled greed, Vincent Palmer (Christian Slater) will stop at nothing to get the right man for your job. Even if it means killing him.
Chasing the Dream
Kristoffer Tabori’s film is an interesting cultural artifact in the museum of works chronicling the rise of high-tech and big money. Whether we like it or not, both tech and finance have come to play an outsized role in our lives. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to make films about these areas. To get it right, we really need to take a cold hard look in the webcam. Then again, maybe it’s just tricky to make typing on keyboards and shouting into phones cinematic. Pursued puts a Hitchcockian spin on the tech genre. While it may swap visceral thrills and melodramatic plot twists for a more serious meditation about the influence of cyber-culture, the film poses the right questions. Fans of this type of material will no doubt appreciate Slater in a precursor part to his casting on the hit TV series Mr. Robot. This film is also an example of what could have been, as an earlier version of the project had cast Val Kilmer in the lead. But at the end of the day, veteran TV director Tabori, the son of legendary filmmaker Don Siegel, brings a cool, calculated professionalism to the genre.
Originally, Val Kilmer was attached to star with a different director behind the camera. The project fell apart due to Hollywood reasons, and the script eventually went through rewrites in order to make the project into a lower budget production. However, Kilmer reportedly described the earlier draft as one of the best scripts that he had ever read. It's intriguing to wonder whether this could have been a prestigious, neo-Hitchcockian thriller for the digital age. Also worth noting is the how this mirrors another famous thriller that Kilmer didn't end up appearing in: David Lynch's Blue Velvet. Interestingly, Kilmer described that script as one of the worst he had ever read, though he later retracted his opinion on the final version of the film.
B movies typically aren't regarded as a prestigious space for filmmaking. That said, there are hidden advantages to making a low-budget genre film like this one. Because these types of productions are designed to virtually guarantee making money, producers and financiers don't care as much about what's in them outside of a few key elements (violence, sex and low cost suspense). Savvy directors can sneak in subversive story elements, or use the project as a means to experiment. This isn't our original idea. It's actually something Martin Scorsese said. So what do you think? Did the director of Pursued sneak any interesting moments into the film? Or did he simply set out about to do his job in a purely technical way?