It’s not at all what I thought it would be … it was a lot better.

“An office worker is trapped inside the building where a killer is on the loose.”  This is the summary for Not Safe for Work that is on IMDb.  Nothing more is given about the plot and I assumed this film was sort of like a Halloween or Friday 13th movie with some maniac chasing a poor guy about the building trying to kill him.  Fortunately, this is not what this film turned out to be and the plot is much more complex and satisfying than just some maniac murdering folks.  Instead, it’s a pretty good little film—one that is not all about gratuitous violence.  In fact, several times the film did have people killed but the director, Joe Johnston, chose not to show the violence in all its nastiness—something I really appreciated.  Instead, this film is also about why all this was occurring instead of just about the killing—a smart decision in my opinion.

Not Safe for Work
Directed by
Joe Johnston
JJ Feild, Max Minghella, Eloise Mumford
Release Date
9 May 2014
Martin’s Grade: A-

The film is told from the viewpoint of Tom (Max Minghella)—a lowly paralegal at a huge law firm.  Because Tom is ambitious, however, he’s gotten on the bad side of his bosses.   They just want him to shut up and do his job.  His desire to rise above the masses of paralegals gets him fired early on in the film.  However, as he’s leaving the RBE law firm for, supposedly, the last time, he notices something strange—a hand off between two folk in the lobby.  In other words, as one guy is leaving the building, another brings him an attaché case and ‘accidentally’ leaves it behind and the guy entering picks it up and proceeds up the elevators to the firm.  That’s certainly odd and Tom follows to see what’s happening.  Once there, he’s shocked to see it’s much more serious than he thought, as he sees this man with the briefcase shoot one of the office workers in cold blood.  Fortunately, the place is just about empty and the body count is low…and perhaps that is why the man is there at that time.  Regardless, Tom is scared to death but cannot leave as well because the killer somehow has managed to disable most of the electronics in the building.  The killer’s very systematic and he clearly is NOT some random maniac—some sort of conspiracy is clearly afoot.  So how is poor Tom to survive—especially when the killer realizes that there is someone else in the office?

Not Safe for Work turns out to be a very taut and well executed thriller that is much more like Die Hard than Friday the 13th!  The direction is very nice and the acting quite believable and I do recommend you see it.  I especially appreciate the rather dark conspiratorial angle about the film and the ending that is a bit reminiscent of the old Warren Beatty film The Parallax View.

My only complaint, and you may not notice or care (since I am an obsessive detail person when it comes to film plots), but at one point in the film another woman is shot and killed by the killer.  However, she tried to fight back and tried to shoot the guy a gun hidden in her purse.  The killer did not know that Tom was hiding in the room.  So after the killer left the room, why didn’t Tom bother to get the gun from the dead woman?!?!  This is the sort of thing that doesn’t ruin the film but makes me wonder how they missed this.  Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens a lot in films and it’s a cliché I really dislike.

Despite my small rant, see the film.  It’s worth your time and is awfully good and just goes to show you that you don’t need mega-stars and mega-budgets to make a good film.

by Martin Hafer