11 (2014) – By Christian Nelson

Michael, a retired US Marine, wakes up in an Amsterdam hotel room to find his girlfriend missing. This might not seem strange, except she left all of her essential belongings behind. To make matters worse, it’s Michael’s birthday, and someone has left him a greeting card with an ominously scrawled number inside. Is it from the girlfriend, or perhaps her kidnapper? Regardless, it starts Michael on an ethereal journey involving numerology and lost memories through the streets of Amsterdam. All is not what it seems in 11, the feature film debut of writer/director/lead actor Janusz Madej.

You’ll want to love this film. It has everything: attractive lead guy, exotic European locations, fight scenes, arms dealers, and a mysterious “down the rabbit hole” plotline. Unfortunately, you’ve seen this movie before, dozens of times, and with much larger production budgets. Upon initial viewing, I got the sense that Madej, although a skilled filmmaker and talented actor, might be biting off a little more than he can chew with 11. The awesomeness is there. You can plainly see it. But the movie suffers on too many levels to really connect with the audience.

11 plays like a short film that was fattened up into a feature. We spend way too long in multiple scenes with trivial dialogue when we should be moving forward. This puts a damper on the pacing. Hell, it takes Michael almost half an hour to even get out of the hotel. You’ll also be questioning certain decisions on the writer’s part, like once tensions rise when Michael unlocks the first clue, and we know things are getting dark, Michael goes back up to his room and takes a nap when he should be focusing on finding his girlfriend. And the girlfriend doesn’t even get a name in the story. The actress playing her, Jennifer Bhagwandin, gets top billing on the poster, but IMDb lists her as “girlfriend”.

I can get past Madej’s American accent, but not the ending, which I don’t think will rest easy with anyone else either. But I’m not giving away any spoilers. You’ll have to find out for yourself.