This is a film that pops up everytime I log into Netflix, and I never gave it any time of day because honestly the cover of it looked so boring. I finally clicked on it, read the description, watched the preview, and was so excited to watch it.
It definitely begins slow, I found myself almost falling asleep for the first three quarters of it. It's only really at the end where things happen. And of course the beginning, but that's a whole nother story.
The plot synopsis goes like this: A man, Ben, is on his last day of parole when his brother, and partner in crime, asks him to complete one more for him before he gets killed. Their policy is no guns, just force, and they break into a company, (not a bank, but what company exactly is not important,) and it's Ben's job to break the safe and steal the gold. Whilst he is going about his duty, shots ring out. He runs back to see what's happened, and his brother along with another con man is dead on the ground, with police holding the gun. He is knocked out and dragged to jail.
Now, this is Texas, and the judge and jury declare that Ben is guilty for these men's deaths, and is charged with three counts of murder (another innocent man was shot). Of course, being Texas, when you murder, you get murdered. His sentence is to await lethal injection, and he sits on death row for two years.
His day comes and he must say goodbye to his wife and daughter, which is the hardest thing to watch, because the daughter asks, "When are you coming home?" and he can not respond in any other way except, "I'm not coming home."
He is strapped down onto the table, and can only watch as each vial of Sodium Thiopental, and Potassium Chloride is pumped into his veins. It's the saddest thing to watch, and I could not stop myself from crying, mainly because I didn't find him guilty, and he's honestly a good man.
The next thing we see after Ben flatlines, is a rainy environment, and someone walking alongside the road. A truck comes into scene, and stops at the man and offers him a ride. We find out it's Ben. The man tells him that he must be the new caretaker at the institution, and the whole feeling is strange.
The man shows him around the facility, things to clean and take care of, who to ask for help when he needs it, etc., and Ben goes about his duties. He lives in a cabin near the institution, (mental institution that is,) and finds a dog amongst the woods. He soon discovers he's no longer in Texas, rather Oregon.
(Side note, the scenery and everything about these scenes is absolutely beautiful, and I couldn't help feeling like it needed to be my home. Maybe oneday.)
This is where the movie drags on. There's scenes of him cleaning, Robbie sometimes helping him, showing his signs that he's a little mental. There is a scene with him and a counselor from the institution whom he ends up kissing. Nothing really too important. We see him drawing his wife's face, he even seeks her out on the internet and she only comes up by her maiden name as if they were never married.
He decides he wants to go home, however everytime he tries to leave, someone is stopping him saying "The only thing out there for you is death.You were given a second chance to start a new life." So he never attempts to leave.
It's grey in my mind exactly how it goes down, but I do remember there is a symbol that haunts him, as a patient at the institution tells him that they've drugged him, and he has a family, and another life. That patient commits suicide because he has no other choice but to stay. That's when Ben begins searching out on his own to find out what is going on. Why he can't leave, why it's like his previous life never existed, and who is following him.
He discovers an implant in his arm, and upon finding it, realizes that everything is a lie. He confronts the man in the beginning, the one who showed him the grounds, and he tells him that he is a patient at the institution. Ben goes berserk and claims he lives in a cabin, and has a dog, and he kissed the counselor, she denies such thing. The man tells him the cabin has been vacant and that he has been hallucinating.
This is where I was going to be disappointed because it had an ending too similar to Shutter Island. Now it would be that Shutter Island was copying The Lazarus Project as this movie was made in 2008 and Shutter Island in 2010. However, this wasn't the ending.
In denial, Ben runs out to the cabin, and it was empty like he had never stayed there. But then as he is walking away, almost ready to give in, he finds the yellow Frisbee that he and his dog had used to play.
He confronts the man one more time, and the man confesses everything. He admits to performing an experiment of sorts, he takes death row inmates, and because the rest of the world believes them to be dead, secludes them in a mental institution to see if they can change if convinced that they are crazy. His project is simply to see if people could actually change their ways if given a new life with no memory of their first one.
Essentially this movie gives you two twists, one that is underwhelming, then in my opinion, one that is amazing. I love how they switched the ending to something greater, and it's such an original idea that I was blown away by this. Much better than the first ending. Though don't get me wrong, I love ending like Shutter Island.
In the end, Ben escapes and drives home to his wife and daughter in Texas, and it is a superbly happy ending. I'm glad they decided to end on a happy note, given the grief that the viewer must endure when we watch him die.
I would give it 8/10