Pressed is a stylish but underwhelming Luke Goss vehicle that posits the former Bros member (who has managed to reinvent himself as an approximation of everything a hard man should be without quite managing it himself, coming across instead as the prototype of a new race of closely-shaved robots) as a hard-nosed American businessman who finds himself taken out of his natural environment – glass buildings filled with sharp suits, talking numbers – and for absolutely no reason uses this to participate in a drug deal with a local barman (whom he has known for less than a week), which also unknowingly involves two idiotic neighbourhood joyriders, neither of whom are prepared for what follows.
GossBot3000 can just about pull off the slight, non-regional American accent that the role requires but he still, after many a role in many a little-seen film, remains an unconvincing lead. He exudes an air of nervous, affected cool that isn’t exactly painful to watch, but doesn’t move the viewer in any real way – he can obviously recognise human emotion, and is probably familiar with its basic tenets, but is simply unable to portray it convincingly. In fact, none of the cast are capable of portraying anything other than the bare minimum of what their clichéd characters require – the dePressed but streetwise barman, the slutty mom, the angry teenager who is stifled by his background, the nerd; each actor recognises his or her characters, and performs it in a capable way, for a director who has a serviceable story that will make a film that technically fulfils the requirements of cinema.
Dialogue is expositionary to the plot – every sentence exists to moves the film along in some way. There’s no magic, nothing more than the sum of each individual part. At one point, the barman character says ‘I don’t do anything that I’m not gonna come out ahead on.’ That’s the ethos of this film and its production – everyone involved was free at the time the movie was shot, had no other jobs, and needed the money. They all got paid for their time, and did their jobs in a completely average way. The cinematographer did the best job he could with the story he was given. The actors portray no real emotions other than slight anger, and the plot is so thin that it might as well not exist. The film would be just as moving if it only consisted of scenes in which men smoke in bars and talk in slightly gruff voices, or in which teens sit in deck chairs on beaches and talk about their boring lives, for that’s what the film is – it exists because GossBot3000 needs another film in which he is a regular guy who has a gun forced into his hands and is forced to make ethically questionable decisions in search of some higher good, and the film suffers as a result. Goss is a less entertaining, less skilled, less convincing Steven Seagal – he is a lobotomised Jean Claude van Damme.
When, after what feels like an eternity, the creaking plot shows itself, you’ll groan at the sheer nerve of presenting something as dangerous and exciting as a giant drugs shipment as something so asinine as boring men, in boring sunglasses, moving boring bags. What could have been a giant shoot-out, or a chase scene, or even some shouting, is rendered as boring men saying boring things in boring ways in boring places. In fact, if this review were to be summarised on the movie poster (unlikely), that is what it would say – ‘Boring men saying boring things in boring ways in boring places’. A better director would have thrown in a few clues, or a bit of build-up that would foreshadow the drug deal – as it stands, there is nothing that tells us why Goss’s character acts the way he does, aside from his father being made bankrupt. Is the audience supposed to believe that this nice man, who up until a few weeks ago had a good job, is suddenly going to go all in on a massive drug deal? It, like almost everything else in this film, makes no sense, but is so boring that you just don’t really care. It’s an exercise in boredom, with reasonably stylish visuals.