This low-budget thriller was one of those great late night netflix finds. Set in a corporate landscape that many of us are all too familiar with, Not Safe for Work lets you live out that hero fantasy where you save the day and get back at your boss at the same time. I was already familiar with JJ Feild due to my love of BBC murder mysteries and period dramas, but this film was another cup of tea altogether. Max Minghella plays Thomas Miller, a young paralegal who gets caught up in a deadly cover-up ploy involving corrupt lawyers and a merciless hit man (JJ Feild). This movie was snubbed a theatrical release, due to the lack of big name stars I assume, but in my opinion, it should have been given the opportunity.
Despite the lesser known cast, there is no lack of quality acting from the film’s leads. JJ Feild plays the calm and collected killer, picking off his victims one by one in the pursuit of his assigned target. Max Minghella’s clever paralegal is the only real obstacle standing between him and the objective. Both actors give believable performances as they play the classic game of cat and mouse inside a modern day labyrinth. Even though he’s the antagonist here, Feild’s charm still comes through as talks to the unfortunate office workers before they meet their demise. The casting for me was one of the strongest features of this movie and keeps it from being thrown into the pile of long forgotten straight to DVD thrillers.
The director’s use of close up shots of the actors’ faces is another great aspect of this movie. You are not just watching a heist go down, but rather you get to feel the emotions from each character, especially as they hide from Feild’s stoic henchman. From the protagonist’s initial intrigue to his full out terror as he realizes what he has gotten himself into, we can empathize easily with him. I could feel the claustrophobia setting in as Thomas races around the office with no safe way out. Then, when an unlucky victim makes one last phone call while the killer stands behind him, you share his despair. The closing in on their faces lets us easily see their reactions, but leaves us blind as to the location of the killer, something which only adds to the suspense. The use of these shots could have become cliche had there been instances of overacting, but this was not the case.
It’s interesting to note that the hit man is just a professional trying to get the job done, while our office worker turned detective is meddling in affairs far beyond his job spec. The latter is another reason why I consider this movie a strong contender. Thomas Miller is a character many of us can relate to. Like so many, he’s stuck in the same concrete tower for at least eight hours a day while at the mercy of his belligerent boss. However, with the appearance of a well dressed stranger, his luck changes. He’s finally able to dig deeper and find answers. Something he was prevented from doing while on the job. The events that follow are like that hero fantasy that we play out in our heads, but that can never manifest itself in the real world. Joe Johnston’s film allows us to have this experience through the eyes of a fictional character who could easily be found sitting at a desk in any real corporate office.
Give this gem of a thriller a try if you are looking for a late night film to watch. Don’t be turned off by the lack of Hollywood stars and a big budget. You will feel like you are a part of the action as the characters race to get out of the office with a killer on the loose.
Directed by Joe Johnston
Cast includes Max Minghella, JJ Feild, Eloise Mumford, Christian Clemenson, and Tom Gallop