In the indie filmmaking world, there's economy of means, and then there's overconfidence in the appeal of those restrictions. The micro-drama "Detour" may have arisen from the former but suffers from the latter. Following such arias of captivity as "127 Hours" and "Buried," writer-director William Dickerson gives us mudslide victim Jackson (Neil Hopkins), an ad man trapped in his car for nearly the entire running time. (The "nearly" refers to smartphone videos of his wife, the odd dream/nightmare and his do-or-die escape attempt.)
For all the ways Dickerson vigorously dramatizes the stages of solitary confinement — nervous humor, fear, rages, survival ingenuity (including a nifty breathing apparatus) — it's never enough to explain why this particular individual's story is worth telling. And although Hopkins is an admirable host for this directorial stunt — especially when giving a tearful testimonial to his unborn child — gratitude that the lead actor isn't bad company is not the same as emotional immersion in a character's dire circumstance. "Nothing to do but wait," Jackson says early on, in the hopes of a quick response from emergency services. That's sitting through "Detour" in a nutshell.
"Detour." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes. Playing at the TCL Chinese, Hollywood.