The thought of Linkin Park turntablist Joe Hahn’s directorial debut to be a story based on author/actor Eric Bogosian’s 2000 based book of the same name, Mall. Forget about whatever thoughts you may have of his band or his music – this film is quite impressive and gives viewers quite the ride within this quasi-psychological thriller.
The story draws is formatted somewhat like Crash, where it is centered around five strangers and how their erratic lives overlaps. Malcom (played by James Frecheville of Animal Kingdom fame) is a Crystal Meth ridden, ready to snap guy who is equipped with a bag full of weapons and self-made bombs, and is on a vendetta to wage war on the world, and his destination is the local mall and the unsuspecting shoppers there.
The narrator of the film is Jeff, a pot-smoking, day dreaming, social outcast teenager (played by Cameron Monaghan of Showtime’s Shameless TV show) is wandering around the mall with his so-called friends and attracting trouble by the mall police. He is fascinated by the Hernan Hesse’s 1927 novel Steppenwolf and liked to recite passages from it as he wanders around the mall.
Under peer pressure by his friends and to impress the girl he likes, Adelle (India Menuez), he drops Ecstasy and the effects of the drug rages while the shootings were happening. The way Jeff’s inner conflicts was portrayed in the film shows created quite the demonic roller coaster range of emotions he was dealing with.
Danny (played by Vincent D’Onofrio, who also co-produced the film) is depressed pervert, who is wandering around the mall, and ironically is caught peeping on Donny (played by Gina Gershon), a regretful housewife who is seeking personal thrills while she is out and about. Danny gets arrested and cuffed in the back of a squad car, until the arresting officer (Ron Yuan) gets shot by Mal by flying bullets from above, as he was about to let free and served a court summons. Danny survives but deals with the guilt of being a pervert by Jeff’s friends, and especially by Adelle, who takes advantage of him in the back of his car, in a sadistic fashion, while he is struggling with what he had done.
As Mal enters the mall, he crosses paths with Michel (Gbenga Akinnagbe), a mall security cop who had a past as a bully and later changed by honoring non-violence to his late wife. He sees Mal after he confronts his ex-boss Barry, a tuxedo store owner with whom he blames for his life spiraling out of whack. Their interaction throughout the movie plays a key part, including how Michel’s inner conflicts about how he dealt with confronting Mal, when the police were trailing him.
Hahn and co-vocalist Mike Shinoda’s original competitions are featured in the film, which flow well with the fast pace of the story. The story itself is somewhat of a social commentary in sorts, from what a shopping mall represents to society and the variety of people who frequent them. Plus with the rash of similar incidents like what was portrayed in this story tells a sad story of the societal ills in today’s times.