Lacking imagination and care, Atone promises to be a hostage-scenario acton film, but instead suffers from an insufferable plot.
On the surface, Wes Miller’s movie Atone is about a pastor receiving backlash from taking everything from the community and not giving back. The film is also about Laura Bishop (Jaqueline Fleming), a former special ops soldier who has become disillusioned by her once strong faith due to a violent past that has cost her her loved ones. Her father, who remains loyal to the church, clings on to hope that she will disconnect herself from the trauma, and stop engaging with late-night underground competitive fighting.
But that’s on the surface. Atone also throws in this idea that the pastor and his loyal board members have opened up this new Church, suitable to hold his vast congregation. I mean, when I say new Church, I mean this is the Disneyland of all churches, with elevators and multiple floors; west and east wings. But then the story moves into a fit of silliness that is easy to watch but astonishing to believe.
The scenario is the following: Laura is given the tour of this unopened Church with her father, who belongs on the board. The pastor reveals that he has dedicated the west wing to who I assume was her ex-husband who passed away. In a state of emotion, Laura leaves the Church, and at that point, a group of men in dodgy jumpsuits lockdown the place. From here Atone turns into a poorly made, religious, and inept version of Die Hard.
I wish I could lie about the poor sound editing and the unforgivable dialogue; in one scene the security staff get gunned down – the bullets are heard first, and then there appears to be a lag, and the gunshot wounds arrive later. It’s strange because the quality of the picture does not speak to a cheap-made budget movie, but a student-made film project that feels painfully long despite being only 90 minutes.
Atone has a wildly misplaced plot, with many themes and twists to throw in for good measure, but its clear Wes Miller just wanted a hostage-situation film, and the story arrived later. Atone is lazy film-making at its finest.