Monday Remains The Most Hated Day
Despite an interesting premise and an action packed plot, What Happened To Monday ultimately falls into the category of generic action thriller. Its a shame too as it starts promisingly enough but quickly becomes a gun-fest of action set pieces with little time for characterisation or embracing the interesting world the characters inhabit. The ending feels a little too rushed, there’s a few plot holes and despite a pretty nice twist and the impressive feat of having one actor play seven roles, the film just feels run-of-the-mill and doesn’t stand out next to other action titles.
The story is set up nicely through a series of news reports to open the film. Earth in the near future is suffering from an overpopulation crisis. To try and combat this, there’s a strict rule of one child per family. Born into this new world are seven sisters who, under the protection of Terrence Settman (Willem Dafoe), are each given a name of the week to correspond to when they can leave their apartment and take on a made up persona. Its interesting, well shot and the opening 40 minutes or so are very well done, showing some great world building that feels akin to that seen in Children Of Men.
For all its positives in the first half of the film, What Happened To Monday quickly devolves into an action thriller, with a breathless pace and some impressively shot action sequences. Its a little jarring and this pacing does make the film a bit uneven. What feels like a slow-burn mystery/thriller suddenly and abruptly turns on its head to become an action rampage complete with explosions, gun and fist fights. Its all very impressive but ultimately lacks the emotional depth with little characterisation for each individual sister.
There’s no denying that th interesting premise holds a lot of promise but it feels wasted. Noomi Rapace, who plays all seven siblings, does an incredible job at portraying all seven roles with enough quips and differences to make them stand out but there’s still times where it makes it difficult to know who’s doing what. “Short haired one”, “Geek one” and “missing Monday one” is about the extent of differentiating them and although the idea is a good one, the execution feels lacking with it ultimately becoming a little too complicated for its own good, especially as you play catch up with the non-stop action.
The ending also makes for a bit of a head-scratching dilemma as the bleak future arguably looks worse than it did when the film started. Main villain Nicolette Cayman (Glenn Close) ultimately asks us “Who’s going to make the hard decisions?” and we’re begrudgingly likely to agree with her. The ending does leave it open a bit to interpretation and perhaps its just me reading into it a little too much but I can’t help but feel the sisters actually make things worse.
Overall then, What Happened To Monday is a film of two halves. On the one hand, its excellent slow paced world building and interesting sci-fi narrative make for an engrossing watch as you settle into a methodical rhythm and take it all in. On the other, the film abruptly turns into a loud, explosive action film with a breathless pace, lacking characterisation and any sort of thematic coherence as it jumps from one action piece to the next. As a run-of-the-mill action film, Monday is certainly good but its also highly forgettable. More frustrating than anything else, is the teasing ambition that this film could have been great. Perhaps if it had explored its themes more deeply or each of the sisters in more detail it would have justified the outcome but as it stands, Monday is simply an average action film with missed potential.