New to VOD: Same Boat (2019) - Reviewed

Boy meets girl.  Girl likes boy.  Boy’s heart is torn because he’s actually a time travelling assassin sent back in time to kill girl.  Same Boat is an unusual film to say the least.  It’s a little bit Terminator and a little bit Love Boat, but somehow not brave enough to make any waves in neither the sci-fi nor romantic comedy waters it treads.   

Chris Roberti is a triple threat for this film, serving not only as the director and writer, but also as the lead character James: a 29th century assassin who travels through time to kill people that are deemed “bad for humanity.”  After murdering the inventors of reality television in 1989, he and his trainee Mot (Julia Schonberg) hop aboard a cruise ship in 2019 to kill Lilly (Tonya Glanz), a beautiful lawyer who breaks up with her boyfriend as they first set sail.  While Mot is seasick in their room, James decides to have some fun, and his professionalism wanes when his heart begins to melt for Lilly, making it increasingly harder to “pull the trigger” (or “press the button,” as it were; they assassinate people with small devices that leave no trace of wrongdoing). 

There is undeniable charm in Same Boat’s wacky premise, but there are many elements in the film that miss their mark.  While it’s technically a comedy, the mostly deadpan humor doesn’t always work.  Characters are introduced purely for comedic value that don’t further the plot and aren’t particularly funny.  The film lacks a certain energy to successfully depict the type of story presented here, partially due to Roberti’s lack of charisma as a leading actor.  While his performance is naturalistic, he doesn’t have the panache to carry the film.  There is also a sense that they were trying to “reel it in” to make the premise feel more plausible, but rather than improve matters, it only creates missed opportunities for added humor and interest.  The film is so casual in its presentation that it feels as though there is nothing at stake the with very minimal conflict the majority of the time.

To be fair, there is good reason Same Boat appears casual:  it was secretly filmed aboard a cruise ship.  Despite this being an impressive feat, the crew’s attempts to not draw attention to themselves during the shooting of this film result in many scenes being not as good as they could have been.  The cinematography is unimpressive and it is stylistically barren.  Nevertheless, one can easily be forgiving of these traits given the circumstances–they are minor issues in comparison to the aforementioned, overarching issues that take precedent.  

Same Boat has some clever moments, but it is ultimately a timid romance that feels tonally off.  This is the type of film that should have tackled its absurdity head first and been bold with its choices, but was instead a failed attempt at Jarmuschian subtlety and nuance.  It played it safe when it should have gone overboard (no pun intended).

--Andrea Riley