‘Parkland’ misses the mark on DVD
Dallas. November 22, 1963. 12:38pm. Wounded President John F. Kennedy is rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital, where a frantic trauma team struggles in vain to save him. Precisely forty-eight hours later, the same personnel would attend to the President’s mortally wounded assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Adapting Vincent Bugliosi’s acclaimed non-fiction book Four Days in November, first-time writer-director Peter Landesman gathers a star-studded cast (including Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti, and Academy Award-winners Billy Bob Thornton and Marcia Gay Harden) to deliver an ensemble based procedural drawn from the accounts of the medical staff, investigators, and the ordinary citizens who witnessed the world-changing events first-hand.
Now in stores on DVD, audiences will not find anything new or integral to the JFK Assassination in Parkland, this is not that film. Instead it remains content to merely play out and display the actions of the bystanders of that act. Parkland does manage to present better on the home screen though as the benefits of home viewing, being able to step away easily and pause when required, greatly helps the watchability of a film that felt dull and overlong in theaters. Not everything works though as the film features a story thread involving the secret service agent who originally interview Oswald months before that either needs to be more fleshed out or excised all together as it remains very underdeveloped and awkward. This is a straight procedural in every sense of the word, there is little character history or backstory that is explored, just the events of the 4 days are displayed.
Parkland does contain some decent performances, Paul Giammati, James Badge Dale and Marcia Gay Harden are all pretty damn great, and the supporting turn from Billy Bob Thornton as the secret service agent in charge is very solid. The film does feature one terribly unconvincing and uninspired performance from Zac Efron though as sadly Efron is featured prominently as one of JFK’s surgeons and in the midst of the other more seasoned performers sticks out like a sore thumb. His reaction and dialogue delivery is wooden at best, defaulting to a blank ‘no one is home’ expression for most of the film. Colin Hanks showing up as a fellow surgeon does not help matters either as his performance falls flat as well.
Despite a stellar cast that also includes Jackie Weaver, Ron Livingston, Mark Duplass and Jackie Earle Hailey, Parkland never elevates much above standard cable fare in story and execution. Director Landesman brings no new spin or viewpoint to the proceedings, other than perhaps the story of Oswald’s family that is never fully examined anyways. Landesman seems content to simply re-enact events that have been told better previously in both fiction and non-fiction circles, dooming Parkland to mediocrity from the start.
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