Unfinished Business

By Nat Master

Mailed on March 09, 2015

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Dear Adam ‘Chip’ Hamilton
Master of the Sword

Dear Adam,

Of all the crew members listed in Ken Scott’s Unfinished Business, you have the coolest credit. I have no idea what exactly it means, but it has earned you this letter because...well, why the hell not.

In the film, Dan, Timothy, and Mike have one last chance to save their fledgling mineral sales company. They chase a big client all the way to Berlin for a seal-the-deal handshake, and they need to deliver a presentation that blows away their competition (and former boss). If they don’t, Timothy can’t divorce his wife and Dan can’t send his angsty kids to private school. So there’s a quest. And a ticking clock. But unfortunately there’s no real sense of urgency.

Oh, I forgot to mention: Dan’s company sells swarf, which is basically manufacturing waste. This film is also swarf: probably important to those who need to sell it, but I can’t be arsed to get too enthused.

Now, I usually find the American-in-Europe culture clash set-up very funny. Language barriers, weird food, European permissiveness versus American prudishness—the ingredients are all there. The film sets itself up as a road trip/caper/fish out of water comedy, but doesn’t embrace any of the tropes or conventions that make those subgenres funny. It holds the promise of some potentially hilarious running gags, but none of them pay off. The German GPS bit should have been milked for all it was worth, and, as always, there’s a giant pile of kinky German sex jokes that could have been plundered. But these opportunities are brushed aside in favour of a family/bullying subplot that feels shoehorned in, and endless scenes of the guys “going over the presentation just one more time.” Their arrival in Berlin coincides with the Folsom Europe festival, a huge marathon, and a G8 summit, but instead we get to watch Dan pore over his slides for the umpteenth time. Which brings me to my next gripe: none of the film’s obstacles are very obstacle-y. I feel like it should take more than a few paint pellets to the torso to sneak into a G8 summit. None of the calamities that befall the protagonists seem to last more than a couple of scenes before being neatly resolved.

Ultimately, it feels way too phoned-in. The filmmakers seemed too indifferent for me to care about the exploits (such as they are) of Dan, Timothy, and Mike, or for me to want them to succeed. Maybe if I knew how ‘Master of the Sword’ fit into the endeavour, I might have been more impressed.

Wait, it had something to do with the scene in the bathroom of the leather club, didn’t it?



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