REVIEW: What Happened to Monday

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What Happened to Monday is a sci-fi action thriller set in an overpopulated dystopian future where the Child Allocation Act advanced by career politician/genetic biologist Nicolette Cayman, played by a stiff, Hillary Clinton-esque Glenn Close, offers a solution. Mandatory from now on, only a single child will be allowed per household. Any siblings will be taken away and stored in a cryogenics system called Cryo Sleep. Somewhere, a woman, Karen Settman, dies during childbirth and her surviving set of identical septuplets are saved and hidden away by their biological grandfather, Terrence Settman, brilliantly portrayed by Willem Defoe. Each of the seven sisters  are named for each day of the week, a device that overplays its hand by the second act. They all assume one ultimate identity to ensure their survival: Karen Settman.

30 years later, all seven Karen Settmans, triumphantly played by Noomi Rapace, in a tour de force performance reminiscent of James McAvoy’s many alters in Split, tries to live a normal life while hiding with her six secret siblings in a technologically secure apartment. Each day, a different sister goes out of the house on the day that corresponds with her name, i.e. Monday assumes the identity of Karen Settman on Monday and goes into work…Tuesday on Tuesday and so on and so forth. And that’s where the problems began for me. Seems like an inventive plot, yes. It’s a fresh concept and the use of such a versatile actress was impressive, however, six was too much for the Child Allocation Bureau and sadly, it was too much for me. After a while, Noomi talking to herself annoyed me. It was hard to keep track of seven women as they lived together. The conversation between them seemed contrived in order to showcase each individual personality. Another headscratcher: supertitles with the days of the week preceded big scenes and yet, it wasn’t specified if it was appropriating the day of the week or one of the characters. The struggle to keep track of all seven ladies and the eventual twist seemed anticlimactic. Putting a ton of inventive ideas into a story doesn’t make for a better film. This is a perfect example of the old adage: less is more.

The screenwriters, Max Botkin and Kerry Williamson, convoluted the story to make us work for a big ending that seemed unsatisfying once the credits rolled. The special effects, the techie equipment and weaponry, and the set design really got me thinking this would be another Snowpiercer or Gattaca, unfortunately the director, Tommy Wirkola, asked me to do more than suspend my disbelief when he made the communication between all seven sisters pertinent to their survival only to dissolve that idea half way through the second act as the sister’s dirty secrets were needed to advance the plot. These so-called secrets would have made it impossible for them to conceal their identities and thrive. Far too many holes in the concepts the writers built into their own story world. There was some major potential. The flashback scenes where Terrance Settman would home school the seven little girls in secrecy were pure magic. If only home schooling was handled by Mr. Settman, we’d have no need for a scary dystopian thrillers. All would be utopia. These scenes were few and far between, however, they hinted at the wonderful beginnings the story had.

I had many questions while watching What Happened to Monday These questions took me out of the movie experience. Some of the plot devices were so clunky that I had to laugh. Sci-fi fans of the above mentioned films will get a thrill but, like the film itself, even that’s a stretch.