SPOILER ALERT: Bad Match (2017) is an awful movie. Not a fun awful movie. There is no ‘cult status’ in the future of Bad Match. This is a film that is so lazy and generic that one has to wonder if it was the result of ‘Script-Writing 101’ group project. Yet somehow a quick scan of film review sites shows that Bad Match has fairly positive reviews. I am absolutely flabbergasted as I found the entire film lazy and tiresome.
Do you watch movies? Have you ever watched a movie? Stop me if you have ever seen any of these movies: Fatal Attraction, The Crush, Swimfan, Obsessed, The Boy Next Door, or Single White Female. If you have seen any of these movies, or have ever watched a movie in your lifetime, than you have already seen Bad Match.
Harris is a successful advertising executive who spends his evenings sleeping with women he’s met on an online dating app. Like all players, Harris has a set of ‘pick up lines’ and ‘pillow talk’ he uses with each date before skulking out in the shadows of the night to never call them again. This all changes when Harris meets Riley. She is attractive, outgoing, and unfortunately for Harris, insane. Things escalate quickly – from persistent text messages and voicemails to fake suicide attempts. Soon Harris finds his life spiralling out of control and his comfortable lifestyle in jeopardy.
Bad Match feels like a movie filmed from a ‘fill-in-blanks’ screenplay where only the character names differ from any other stalking film you have seen in the past. You can pretty much predict what is going to happen for the vast majority of the film. First, there are the opening obligatory scenes showing Harris sleeping with and discarding his dates. Hint, hint – he’s a jerk that is going to learn a valuable lesson. This is followed by the one-night stand with the ‘crazy stalker’ who immediately begins texting and leaving voicemails. When the ‘crazy stalker’ is spurned, Bad Match moves to the second act where Harris has his personal and professional life sabotaged. The speed at which Harris falls from good-looking Internet playboy to looking homeless is almost laughable. By the film’s third act, Harris, now destitute and ruined, takes desperate action to prove his innocence. It’s at this point of the film were Bad Match shows some willingness to diverge from the formula. Unfortunately, the film’s twist is unearned and proves to be too little, too late, just managing to save Bad Match from being a complete waste of time.
Stupid Character Choices as Plot Vehicle
It also wouldn’t be a lazy stalking film if characters didn’t make incredibly stupid decisions.
About the only fresh angle Bad Match brings to the mix is its incorporation of social media. Bad Match is essentially just an update on Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty for Me and Fatal Attraction for the Tinder crowd. In fact, the only genuinely fresh moment of Bad Match is a jailhouse scene where Harris’ lawyer asks him for the phone number of family member or friend to post bail and Harris admits he doesn’t actually know anyone’s phone numbers – he just selects contacts from his smart phone. Yet for a film that’s only true original stroke is its incorporation of social media, the writer doesn’t seem to get how it works. Wouldn’t Harris have hundreds of text messages and voicemails to show police? When I access my Twitter account from a new computer or phone, I get an email from Twitter letting me know there has been a unique login. Why can’t the police see from where his account was accessed?
It also wouldn’t be a lazy stalking film if characters didn’t make incredibly stupid decisions. And Harris might just be the dumbest stalking film protagonist of all time. Once Riley begins sabotaging all aspects of his life, Harris makes one increasingly stupid choice after another. Of course, this is all part and parcel of the stalking film designed to increase suspense for the film’s final act. Each decision Harris makes only serves to make him look more guilty, leaving the audience to wonder how the film will be resolved. How would abducting someone after drugging them and forcing a confession while they are restrained prove your innocence? I don’t know and apparently neither do the makers of Bad Match.
Lack of Sympathetic Characters
Aside from its absolutely familiar narrative, Bad Match suffers from a lack of sympathetic characters. I understand that for the premise of the film to work, Harris has to be a somewhat self-interested jerk at the start, but his character is so completely unlikeable and irredeemable that it makes investing in his plight difficult. On the other hand, Riley never registers as more than the standard ‘obsessed ex-girlfriend’ narrative seen in a half dozen or so of these films; she is never a real character with her own agency. Bad Match could have worked as a morality tale but with a repugnant ‘dude bro’ as its protagonist and Riley as nothing more than a prop to drive the plot, there is nothing to be learned or gained from the film’s final twist.
In addition to its utterly generic plot, the acting in Bad Match ranges from awful to bland. Jack Cutmore-Scott and Lili Simmons are serviceable but completely forgettable as Harris and Riley. While she only appears in two brief scenes, the actress playing Harris’ boss still manages to secure the worst performance in the film. Placing a close second is the actor playing Harris’ lawyer who hits all the right stereotyped notes of the ‘incompetent defence attorney” trope.
No Match With Bad Match
In the film’s final act, Harris whines, “I’ve never hurt anyone” proving he hasn’t learned anything. If you watched Bad Match, please show you’ve learned something and warn all your friends away from this Netflix offering. I am admittedly floored by some of the positive responses this film has garnered. It offers nothing new to what was already a fairly tired thriller subgenre. If writer and director David Chirchirillo had invested more time in Lili as a character, not a film trope, and perhaps flipped the film’s perspective to her, the ending had the potential to be subversive, re-invigorating a subgenre. Instead we’re left with a generic film that moves along at a fairly brisk pace, inoffensive and bland, with nothing new to offer.
THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: D-