ATM comes from writer Chris Sparling, the man responsible for putting Ryan Reynolds in a coffin for the entirety of Buried and making it a genuinely gripping watch. So with his ability to craft tense, self-contained thrillers can he do it again with ATM?
After a Christmas work-do three colleagues Brian (David Hargrove), Corey (Josh Peck) and shy Emily (Alice Eve) stop on their way home to get some money out of an isolated ATM. Once in the small room they witness a murder outside by a hooded killer. With the temperature dropping and the killer keeping a watchful eye, the trio soon realise they’re in for a long night.
Having your main protagonists work in the financial sector does little to endear them to an audience. As such the early set-up of ATM works in so far as you want the bad stuff to start happening but you probably won’t care when it does.
ATM’s biggest issue is a severe lack of tension. Every moment that should have you gripping the seat instead has you rolling your eyes with contempt for the filmmakers. What is more, while the body count outside the ATM begins to rise you wonder what the trio’s rush is to escape.
Of course with the killer being masked, his identity hidden throughout, the film does allow a degree of speculation as to who and why he’s trapped three people in an ATM. They’re bankers, trapped in a small bank, during a recession – the motivations are endless. The three protagonists do stop to ask this question, planting theories firmly in the audience’s mind. Unfortunately the filmmakers forgot to offer anything resembling an answer to these questions.
Films like this can be easily forgiven if there is a twist end that leaves you gasping, something like; they were dead all along or Kiefer Sutherland was on the phone and he just wanted to stop you from being so self centered. ATM doesn’t just fail to do this, it doesn’t even attempt to. The ‘twist’, when it comes, leaves you scratching your head with sheer frustration as to what the point of it all was.
Like the two-dimensional characters and the weather outside, ATM will leave you cold and overdrawn with boredom.