Written by Dave Younger
Twelve (2010, Rated R, 93 min.) stars Chace Crawford (Gossip Girl) as White Mike, drug dealer to the stars of the Upper East Side’s prep schools. They’re young, rich, white, beautiful, and vapid: texting and whining are their main activities. That and scoring drugs. And then there’s Molly (Emma Roberts, Julia’s daughter (niece. Thanks Robert) who’s quite effective as the one good person here. Although they’ve been friends forever, she doesn’t know White Mike is a drug dealer. He can’t tell her for fear of losing her friendship and, because she reminds him of his mother (who passed away recently), it would be like telling your mom you’re a dealer.
There’s a new drug, Twelve, going around. It’s liquid and comes in a vial, a cross between cocaine and ecstasy. It’s so crazy that when Emily (Jessica Brayson) does some she talks to all her teddy bears, and they talk back to her! Well, that’s just plain scary, so White Mike won’t touch it – but he can get it for you if you bat your pretty eyelashes at him. He gets it from Lionel (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson). Emily is addicted and, unable to get the $1000 she needs from her mother (Ellen Barkin), she gets completely exasperated. The nerve of her mother to deny her this necessity! Her mother points out that some families are going through hard times and mentions one family that has lost 40% of their net worth. “Yeah, but they’re still worth millions,” is Emily’s retort. She finally agrees to go all the way with Lionel for another high.
Sara Ludlow (swimsuit model Esti Ginzburg) is about to turn 18, and there’s going to be a huge party – the best party ever! They’re all going to be famous, and it’s going to be on Page 6. She tries to convince Chris (Rory Culkin) to throw it at his parents’ house while they’re out of town. She hints that he won’t be a virgin anymore. That does the trick. The only problem is Chris’s brother who’s psychotic and – spoiler alert! – could go off at any time, and turn this into a Page 1 story. Meanwhile, there’s been a murder, and White Mike’s cousin is dead, and his best friend is implicated.
Tragically, director Joel Schumacher (Batman & Robin – it says this on the box! Like directing one of the worst movies ever is an achievement!) decided to have a narrator (Keifer Sutherland). This isn’t a noir; it’s far too light. The narrator tells us about the characters instead of the film showing us the characters. And Keifer has a self-important, know-it-all, holier-than-thou tone that’s laughable. Here’s an example of the idiotic narration we’re subjected to continually: “White Mike loves rooftops. He would love to jump from rooftop to rooftop. He knows he never will.”
The aspect ratio is 1.85:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 20 MBPS. Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish, and French. Colors are full-blooded and, taking place in the fall, there is an emphasis on reds and browns. Black levels are muddier than they should be. This is especially true in the corners of the many fancy rooms we see. The film is well lit, and colors are nicely saturated but sometimes smeared. Everything would have had to be much darker for this to have been a noir. The detail and sharpness are not quite what I expect from a high definition image presentation. Close-ups are fine, but long shots tend to lose definition.
The soundtrack is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The surrounds are aggressive, fully conveying the lively background of the city that never sleeps. A punchy subwoofer is used to great effect, especially during street scenes that vividly bring the rumbling danger of the city to life. Dialog is well detailed, and I had no trouble discerning anything that was said from this large cast. Points have to be deducted for the weird, God-like echo on Keifer’s voice.
There are more than a dozen characters here, hardly any of them fleshed-out completely. If you don’t get to know the characters, you certainly won’t care what happens to them. Some of the casting choices –swimsuit models instead of actors – are suspect. And Schumacher, at 68, probably shouldn’t have been the director to detail the lives of the young and the wasted. White Mike doesn’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. In this movie’s twisted logic, that makes him worse, far worse, than his customers. Keifer points out that, “It’s all about want. Nobody needs anything here.” This is an entertaining thriller. But nobody needs to see this.