Chris Evans has always been more than just a pretty face. He’s a diverse actor, having played characters in dramas, romantic comedies and various superhero movies, his portrayal of Captain America far and wide being the most popular. And now, Evans has stepped into the role of director, getting his hands dirty behind the camera as well as in front for Before We Go. A somewhat bland yet entertaining film on a stay-at-home-and-watch-on-your-couch kind of way, Evans doesn’t do too shabby of a job on his first directorial outing.
Originally titled 1:30 Train and written by two of the same writers who gave us the mediocre Playing it Cool, which also starred Evans, Before We Go is on par with the aforementioned film, with the exception of being slight bit more realistic (and isn’t that a strange concept?). The film doesn’t waste any time in getting to the meet-cute part of the film. Running through New York’s Grand Central Station to catch the last train to Boston, Brooke Dalton (Alice Eve) predictably misses it. Trumpet player Nick Vaughan is quick to offer his services to help her since her purse was also stolen, but being randomly helped by a male stranger isn’t as romantic as it sounds in the movies and so the two have a rough start.
Nick comes off as egotistically heroic at first, but this attitude eventually fades away as the night goes on. Both of them are only visitors to New York City and are loaded with baggage–Nick with the inability to get over the girl who broke his heart six years ago and Brooke with a secret she left back in Boston. As the night goes on and the two of them get to know each other a little better, advice given and taken helps them move forward in their lives and ignites the hope for a possible romance.
Directorial debuts generally prove nothing about the future success of a person in the role, and this is most definitely true for Evans. Before We Go is a simple film and there are no exceptionally complicated camera tricks and techniques that would be an obstacle. Evans keeps the entire film on the down-low, humble and grounded. For a film that takes place over the course of less than a day, it can become tedious watching what the characters may or may not do, and the story does threaten to become stale and boring. There are moments here and there when it does so, causing it to drag a bit because there is only so much you can possibly do over the course of a night with two people who don’t really know each other, but it manages to pick itself up again before failing completely.
Chris Evans and Alice Eve have chemistry, though their characters aren’t immediately easygoing and comfortable around each other, which is par for the course given the fact that they just met. There isn’t an overabundance or unrealistic charm or declarations of love. The finale comes close to becoming a romantic cliché, but thankfully doesn’t steer into that direction. There is some decent conversation, some overly sappy scenes that felt as though they came out of a montage, but without being anything breathtaking or unique, Before We Go is mediocre at best and ultimately a forgettable film. Still, it’s also somehow decently entertaining despite its shortcomings and occasionally drawn-out melodrama. A film best seen from the comfort of your own home (and preferably on a moody day).
Release Date: In theaters September 4, now available on On Demand | Director: Chris Evans | Screenwriters: Ronald Bass, Jen Smolka, Chris Schafer, Paul Vicknair | Cast: Chris Evans, Alice Eve, Emma Fitzpatrick, Mark Kassen | Genre: Romance | MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language and some suggestive content