While it seems at first as if you might be in for a science-fiction treat, Listening tends to feature the genre and its aspects secondary to the character study going on between its leading men. David and Ryan are best friends and they also happen to work together while attending school. Said work involves the creation of a machine that will be able to read thoughts. It works, better than most who have attempted the same thing experiment, but they want to do better and the mysterious Jordan soon lends them a hand in order to do so. It is that pivotal moment that changes the lives of the two friends – that of their work and their personal lives both and what begins as promising, ends in disaster.
For the most part, Listening is a pretty riveting movie. The performances from Thomas Stroppel and Artie Ahr carry the film more than anything else. There are a ton of plot holes and while some might find them distracting and perhaps aiding to the detriment of the movie, they are not all that bad. For some, it is the lack of exploration into the machine that the two men have built and just what the motivation and goals of the secret government organization are that lends to their lack of enjoyment, but director and writer Khalil Sullins, while exploring it to an extent, decided to focus more on the human aspect of the picture just a little bit more. Though it would have been nice to see more of a balance between the two, what we ended up with was still quite interesting.
As the film begins, David and Ryan are not the most likeable of characters. They lie and steal, are a little insensitive and yet despite it all, you cannot help but empathize with them just a little more and more as the film goes on. They are written as if they could be the everyday person with everyday problems and it is there that Sullins succeeds. They feel as if they could be you – the viewer, people with real and familiar hardships that many experience. It is interesting to see as well how simple things like money and women can get between two men who could be like brothers in all but blood. Making things even worse is when they start to listen to each other’s thoughts, never mind the backstabbing over material items. Where the picture starts out with the two as friends, it transforms and leaves them off as bitter enemies and it is quite the journey and it is one that also happens to thoroughly entertain. Sure, some things could have been better and the same can be said for any movie, but Listening ultimately works thanks to its performers and Sullins ability to tell a compelling story.
3 out of 5