Branded: Crack the Code, Take Back Your Mind (2012)

Posted: June 24, 2013 in Drama, Fantasy, Mystery
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BRANDED-POSTER_510Early in his career, advertising guru Misha is experiencing much success. He can figure out the best ways to cause his company’s partnerships extend their profits through targeted and successful marketing. When he meets Abby, he decides to split from longtime friend, Bob, and develop his own company while working on a new television Extreme Cosmetica. Everything looks like it is going to be a huge success until Bob chases after Misha’s success and the focal point of their show does not wake up from the anesthesia. Broken and woeful, Misha escapes to the countryside. Several years later, Abby finds the lonely man and happens upon him at the moment of a breakthrough. Attending to the ritual of sacrificing the red calf, Misha’s eyes are opened to the hidden world of brands and their affect on the world around him. Determined to bring down the marketing industry, he sets out to develop a campaign to destroy them all.

Starring: Ed Stoppard (Misha Galkin), Leelee Sobieski (Abby Gibbons), Jeffrey Tambor (Bob Gibbons), Max von Sydow (Joseph Pascal), Ingeborga Dapkunaite (Dubcek), Andrey Kaykov (Pavel), Jamie Bradshaw (Mr. Johnson), Ulyana Lapteva (Veronika), Oleg Akulich (Ivanov)

Mostly focusing around the insanity of a man confused by his profession, Stoppard made for a believable visionary who could not seem to get his thoughts reigned in. His insanity was really one of the only bright parts to this film. Tambor simply came off as an executive jerk, though that was the point of the film. Sobieski was a decent partner for Stoppard but does not add too much to the film. When confronted with Stoppard’s crazier scenes, she seemed to have very stunted emotional reactions. Sydow’s character also seemed somewhat pompous and underdeveloped.

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Jamie Bradshaw’s and Aleksandr Dulerayn’s film looked to make a statement about the power and abuse of marketing on today’s society. The scene for the film was not set too far off in the future so as to make the development of a brand-obssessed populous (not unlike today) believable. The premise of the film surrounding a man chosen to see the hidden world of marketing by a power greater than himself was a bit “trippy” even though the point was to show how the supernatural can sometimes make a visionary appear like a maniac. By sacrificing the red calf, Misha allowed himself to see weird creatures that clung to people and buildings that represented the automated desires feeding the larger brand-oriented creatures. Having finally realized the dangers of marketing, he used his marketing skills to take out the unhealthy brands one by one, though he was not going to go unnoticed by the government and the confused but angry populous.

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While avoiding the use of any actual brand names, it was clear what the writers and directors were going for when they showed which brands were dangerous to people. On the board in Misha’s office, there was a list that included company names that represented real brands like McDonalds, Apple, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Burger King, Samsung and more. Even though it can be difficult to figure out some of the connections, it was clear that every industry was under attack in this film. The problem with this film was that this message was lost behind how dark and freaky the whole concept was presented. There was no widespread appeal for a film that used blob-like monsters to represent major company brands, when the cast was also not A-list and whole presentation seemed a bit droll.

While the film failed to take off, there are some redeeming qualities, mostly in the message of the dangers of brand loyalty and obsession. Without a more compelling, connected presentation and stronger acting, this one will simply stay faded in the background of other politically-themed movies.

Dan’s Rating: 2.0/5

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