Aristotle once categorized friendship into three types: utility, pleasure and “of the good”. The wry narrator of Rob Grant’s tropical thriller Harpoon suggests a fourth type; one where friends were once close, but only stay friends for appearances long after they’ve drifted apart.
After brutally beating up his best friend Jonah (Munro Chambers) under the mistaken impression he had had an affair with his girlfriend Sasha (Emily Tyra), mafia brat Richard (Christopher Gray) whisks both of them away for a cruise off the coast of Florida in his private yacht as a showy attempt to make amends. The trip swiftly turns south however when it emerges that Richard’s suspicions may not have been so mistaken after all.
A violent fight ensues with Jonah and Sasha’s gift of a spear gun playing a starring role leaving Jonah with a nasty hand wound. This all results in a truce where almost anything that can be used as a weapon is tossed overboard in a peace offering, the trio discover (dun, dun, DUN!) that the motor won’t start leaving them adrift in the middle of the ocean. Worse, they are apparently outside the usual shipping lanes and with the radio damaged in the aforementioned fight, out protags are now stuck in uncomfortably close quarters.
With no food and water running dry, the three are left with little else to do but spill their guts on years of pent up secrets between the three. Truths are confessed, bonds are tested and seagulls are killed for their drinkable blood as thoughts turn increasingly to killing one of their number so that the other two may live. With his rapidly infected hand wound, Jonah seems like an ideal candidate, but he won’t be going down without a fight.
The audience was warned before our screening that we may think differently of director Rob Grant after seeing the darker side of humanity presented onscreen here. They needn’t have worried however because as gruesome as the proceedings may be, it’s played with such candor and tongue-in-cheek that you can’t help but feel thankful for the experience.
The screenplay is tightly focused from the get-go, quickly setting up the three main characters and how they relate to each other. Things are kept moving by the delightfully sarcastic narration courtesy of Brett Gelman (whose custom trailer narration is worth checking out HERE) as well as several hilarious vignettes on how the characters have broken every sailor superstition in the book and then some!
Harpoon‘s young thespians are more than up to the task of piloting their grey-shaded characters through the screenplay’s choppy waters. Canuck genre favourite Munro Chambers is in fine form as the frustrated beta male Jonah, taking plenty of damage along the way (I’ll bet he’s missing that Turbo Kid suit!). Christopher Gray instills nuance into the rage-filled Richard and Emily Tyra is a solid anchor between the two often having to assume the thankless mother role at times.
While most of us will hopefully never end up in a situation as dark and desperate as Harpoon depicts, it may have us taking stock of our own friendships and what we would do if stuck in close quarters for too long. Perhaps we should only go boating with strangers…
Harpoon has been acquired by Epic Pictures for theatrical and On-Demand distribution, release TBD