A young man flies between the buildings, lifting cars into the air with the power of his mind - based on an original story by director Josh Trank and screenwriter Max Landis, “Chronicle” is the tale of three teens who find a power beyond their imagination, and the struggle they face in learning to control it.
Like so many of us, they’re obsessed with chronicling their lives, however mundane – or in their case, however extraordinary. For Andrew, Matt and Steve have stumbled upon something beyond their – or anyone’s – understanding. They’re now capable of, well, almost anything. They can move objects just by thinking about them, crush cars through force of will. They learn to fly…the ultimate wish fulfillment, until things get dark.
As the story opens, Matt is a cynical, know-it-all, too-cool-to-care teen. But like his two new cohorts, Matt undergoes radical changes after an encounter with a mysterious force leaves him with incredible powers. The two other members of the newly empowered high school trio are Matt’s cousin, Andrew (portrayed by Dane DHaanl), and campus king Steve (Michael B. Jordan). Australian actor Alex Russell reflects on playing the all-American high schooler in the following Q & A.
Q: It's not like a traditional Marvel or DC superhero movie. Was that part of the attraction?
A: You get to do all these incredible action sequences. You get to do superhero stuff, but the characters are so layered. Not to say that isn't always the case, but if there's a superhero movie the prime thing is to sell that aspect of it—the superpowers and the function of a superhero. This is more about characters learning about themselves and developing as people. It's interesting to think about what Matt, Andrew and Steve would have been like if they hadn't had superpowers.
Q: Can you introduce us to Matt, your character?
A: Matt Garetty is in his senior year. He's spent much of his high school life with a “screw you” attitude toward everyone and everything around him. He's had this nihilistic approach, up until recently, all through his high school years. He's intelligent, but he doesn't do well in school because at some stage he turned against the system. Now he's in his senior year and while that's a huge part of him, he does have that desire to want to connect with people again. The arc of Matt's character throughout the film is huge.
Q: Will the handheld element bring something different for audiences?
A: That's what is so exciting about it. The illusion is that characters are holding these cameras and you're seeing stuff that's surreal and amazing. I think bringing those two elements together - that raw style of shooting and these incredible effects - is going to be really unique; especially because it's not the shaky handheld approach. You may have whole scenes where the camera is just sitting there and there's no room for cuts. It's very tricky but also very exciting because people get a feel that they're looking in to a world with that kind of shot.
Q: What do you like about your character?
A: I like that he has a thirst for knowledge. I really like that who he is in the beginning is who he is in the end. Even though a lot of his thirst for knowledge is part of his image, he does have a real desire to expand his thinking. I really like that about him.
Alex Russell graduated from the prestigious NIDA acting program in his native Australia in 2009 and became one of the first of his graduating class to book a leading role in a feature film. “Wasted On The Young” was one of the breakout international hits of the 2010 Toronto Film Festival and led to offers in the shape of independent feature ALMOST KINGS and the upcoming Australian action thriller “Bait 3D.”
“Chronicle” opens February 2 in theaters from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.