The Rules of The Box
1. If the button is pressed, you will receive $1,000,000 tax-free.
2. If pressed, a person that you do not know will die.
Imagine if you happened to be placed into that situation? Would you press the button? Regardless of what you wold do, this is an enormously difficult situation to be put in. This premise is based on the Richard Matheson story "Button, Button" and was adapted onto the Twilight Zone. (The best episode in the entire series in my opinion) The problem is, how do you stretch that premise out for an entire movie?
The first half of The Box is fantastic but once the entire conspiracy behind the box is revealed, the film almost falls apart. If not for the conclusion that almost makes up for the middle portion, I would have hated this film.
The film starts in 1976 and is about a married couple played by James Marsden and Cameron Diaz with a young son. The family suddenly hits upon unlucky financial times, but out of nowhere, a box with a button appears given by Frank Langella. He gives them the lowdown: Press the button, you receive a million dollars but someone, somewhere, you don't know will die. The couple have 24 hours to press the button or the offer goes to someone else, and with a last minute decision, the wife chooses to press it. Now, they try to uncover the mystery behind the box and discover a conspiracy that goes beyond anything they could imagine.
I loved the core story of the film. The performances by Marsden and Diaz are the best out of their entire careers, giving great emotion scenes that I thought was out of their range. If you want to watch this film, just go watch the Twilight Zone episode and skip this movie because right after the couple starts uncovering the conspiracy behind the box, the film does a complete 360 into something out of Knowing.
The director, Richard Kelly, crafted an excellent film with Donnie Darko but then made the crapterpiece Southland Tales that had a thousand interesting concepts but didn't nail any of them. With this, he wanted to make a mainstream film while implementing his own insane style of storytelling. The thing that he needs to realize is that every film doesn't need a complex narrative to be interesting. When the film stays fairly grounded in reality, its fantastic but right when it started going into science fiction territory, it starts to break apart.
The Box has two of the best performances of the year but because of some late plot twists that don't make much sense and weaken the core story of the film, this was just a decent film that has already been done perfectly in the Twilight Zone.