In Any Day, Sean Bean’s character’s name “Vian” is pronounced “vie-anne,” but when slurred a tad—as it is by Bean’s American accent—it sounds more like “vine.” One could suspect this is the metaphor we’re supposed to cling to, as in: “Will he or won’t he die on the vine?” Vian, an “alcoholic ex-fighter,” beats a random guy to death; a day player grabs him and cautions, “When you’re a pro you can’t do that.” Do what? Kill somebody? Punch somebody? Is this even a question of unfairly exploiting pro-boxing skillsets against an amateur? It’s more: “Once you’ve won the fight you’ve won the fight, so…stop punching, before your opponent dies.”
In the grand tradition of stupid movies about men, director and writer Rustam Branaman treats the struggle of a man trying to be a real man without resorting to killing people as if it’s a real thing. But the explicit thing movies like this always say—that a peaceful masculinity is more manly than an aggressive masculinity—is not the thing they apparently believe, because nobody ever makes this kind of film about a man who has never even thought to punch somebody in the first place. No, the manliest thing, apparently, is to possess the ability to beat somebody to death, and to maybe even do that, but then to later not kill people, even though you totally could. All this in a movie that is going to invoke Jesus here in a sec, which is why masculinity and this movie are both absolute jokes.
Flash forward to 12 years later when, after getting out of prison, Vian returns to his old gym, only to find out that the new owner isn’t interested in having a murderer hang out with the kids he’s training. As Vian mulls over the fact that Things Have Changed, for a brief second he looks like he’s going to kill this guy for daring to impugn his image by implying that he once killed somebody, because accurate insults are the worst kind of insults. And then, as Vian sadly walks out of the gym, a song cues up on the soundtrack: “I ain’t never really sure what the good Lord has in store.” This is followed by several symbolic shots of power lines as Vian wanders through an urban landscape filled with quick self-help advertisements and pornography. Everything in Any Day is portentous and presented as if it is loaded with meaning; none of it is, because everything is either so obvious or so arbitrary that nothing actually means anything.
Well, except that Jesus is awesome. Yes, there’s a faith-based message in here too, but it carries with it that curious problem that many faith-based movies have: It’s built on the skeleton of many other similar films and just kind of follows those plot points until God shows up to save the main character. Which…if that’s what’s going to happen—if that’s always how the story is going to end—then why bother? Oh, by the way, Eva Longoria, Kate Walsh, and Tom Arnold are also in this film, but they aren’t functionally fleshed-out characters, just different sounding boards for Vian’s relationship with God.
To its credit, Any Day’s ending is bittersweet. To its detriment, it so obviously has a bittersweet ending because We Can’t Always Understand God’s Plan, a conclusion you can see coming from a million power lines away. There’s no soul to this movie, which is often the case with movies that are propaganda for faith, rather than movies about characters who may or may not have faith. The most interesting thing about this film has nothing to do with its actual story. Instead, you spend the whole time thinking, “Hey! Sean Bean and Kate Walsh are willing to star in this kind of film?” Then again, for most of it they look like they’d rather be anywhere else.
Director: Rustam Branaman
Writer: Rustam Branaman
Starring: Sean Bean, Kate Walsh, Eva Longoria, Tom Arnold
Release: May 1, 2015
Mark Abraham sometimes teaches history in Toronto, is sometimes an Editor at Cokemachineglow, was at one time the co-founder of The Damper, and is always a Bedazzler aficionado. You can follow him on Twitter.