Even if you enjoyed Martin Scorsese’s thriller, there’s no denying it could’ve been shorter than 2 hours and 18 minutes. Babysitter money doesn’t grow on trees! Hence, our viewer’s cut.
Marshals Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo ferry to an island prison for the criminally insane where a patient’s gone missing.
Minus 4 Minutes
Okay, we get it, there’s a hurricane a-brewin’. Let’s cut all the chitchat about the weather and the atmospheric shots of rain, wind, and lightning. We’ve seen Scorsese’s Cape Fear?; we’ve already figured out that doom is on the way.
The top shrink, Ben Kingsley, stonewalls the investigation. What’s he hiding?
Minus 15 Minutes
DiCaprio starts having a series of vivid dreams and flashbacks of his dead wife (Michelle Williams) and the horrors he saw a decade earlier during WWII. This is important character stuff, no doubt about it. But do we need so many of them? Let’s take the shears to about half of them.
Minus 3 Minutes
How do we know the movie’s set in 1954? Everybody smokes. The doctors, the nurses, you name it. We’re not going to get all righteous here, but we could honestly lose about 20 shots of Zippo lighters lovingly firing up Lucky Strikes and still get the point that it’s a period piece.
Leo tells Ruffalo he has other reasons for wanting this case — one of the inmates killed his wife!
Minus 10 Minutes
Wait, what?! Is Leo trying to solve a missing-persons case, or is he on Shutter Island to dole out some bloody payback for his wife’s death? Seriously, we’re fine with it either way, but this is starting to make our heads hurt. Even if we scrapped a third of the red herrings in this flick, we’d still have enough to pack a fish market.
Leo heads to the creepy Ward C to meet the killer, Jackie Earle Haley. Or is he?
No! The answer to it all is in the lighthouse! Meets Patricia Clarkson along the way.
Minus 5 Minutes
Patricia Clarkson is always a treat in any movie she’s in. But what’s she doing in a cave with all the answers? When did she become Jacob from Lost? Plus, half of what she says turns out to be hooey. How about cutting her and seeing if things don’t make just as much sense at the end?
Minus 3 Minutes
Ted Levine shows up as the warden. He’s that scary actor from The Silence of the Lambs who tells the girl to put the lotion in the basket. He gives us the creeps, and we need to sleep tonight. Out he goes.
Leo finally reaches the lighthouse, where Kingsley is waiting with many confusing answers. The End?
Not so fast. Mr. Scorsese has a ton of endings up his sleeve!
Minus 18 Minutes
The movie should end in the lighthouse when Kingsley lets Leo down hard with the twisty truth, Angel Heart-style. Why gum up the works with everything that comes afterward? After all, sometimes less really is more.
Our Running Time: 80 Minutes
Total Running Time: 138 Minutes