Wander is a 2020 film done very poorly.
0 out of 10 stars. This is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. It’s a pity because it has an all-star cast. I guess they need work too. Definitely a D flick.
Two creepy looking men live in trailers in the desert of Texas and run a conspiracy podcast called “Thought Junction”. One of them is Jimmy (Tommy Lee Jones) and the other is Arthur Bretnik (Aaron Eckhart), a former police detective whose wife is in a convalescent home and whose daughter Cleo is dead after a hit and run that he believes was part of a conspiracy.
Here’s the conspiracy: He was called to a church where a man’s body was found with a strange hole in his chest. That body was then stolen. He began investigating the disappearance of the body and then he and his family were hit by a large truck that subsequently disappeared.
One night during their podcast, a woman named Elena Guzman calls in and tells them her daughter Zoe was murdered by the police in Wander, Texas. Jimmy takes off and comes back with Elena who wants to hire Arthur for $10,000. Since he’s a registered private detective, he takes the job. Right there is the first major plot hole. A paranoid person doesn’t register for anything, much less as a PI because then the cops would always know where he was.
Arthur goes to Wander, which is 90 miles away, and is immediately pulled over by the town sheriff, Sheriff Santiago (Raymond Cruz). Like I said, PIs are registered and so are their vehicles. He tells Arthur he’s watching him then leaves.
Arthur talks to Elena who says the police still haven’t released Zoe’s body, so he breaks into the morgue and takes photos. There are three other bodies there with the same holes in their chests. Then he goes to the site of the supposed car crash that killed Zoe and there is evidence of a car crash. A white Cherokee follows him, so he loses the Cherokee and then follows them. They pick up a young woman and take her to an abandoned truck stop. When they open the back of the Cherokee, the woman is unconscious in the “trunk”. And he sees the same woman he saw the night his John Doe’s body disappeared, a blonde with a big hat (Katheryn Winnick).
The next day he goes to the scrapyard at the edge of town and finds Zoe’s car. Although it’s never shown that he finds a USB flash drive here, this is the only place he could have gotten it. On the drive is a video of experiments on people. He returns to the truck stop and breaks in. The key card he found in Zoe’s car opens a trap door in the floor and leads to an underground lab which is not even close to sterile. There are several people inside a glass room wandering around like mentally ill people. Two of them he recognizes from the hotel the previous day, immigrants fresh off the plane with visas and translation books. He also finds a “Patient Ledger” and of course, he takes photos of everything.
He returns to his motel room and Jimmy is there. So he calls his friend/shrink/lawyer Shelly and asks her to go to his trailer and look through his old case files for the John Doe case. He wants a photo of the picture of the blonde woman who was outside when he found John Doe’s body. She takes a pic and sends it to him. It’s the same woman with the big hat.
Apparently, Elena Guzman is really Sofia Lopez and her daughter Zoe is Martina Lopez. They both were reported missing months ago, so Arthur’s theory is that they are experimented on and their memories removed. When they return to the motel, Sofia is there and attacks Arthur. She tells him that Jimmy is in on it. (Which is true.) Then her chest explodes and creates a hole just like Martina’s. Arthur and Jimmy take her body into the desert and dispose of it.
They go through the list of missing immigrants and match their photos to the photos Arthur took of the lab. Then Arthur and Jimmy go to the trucks stop. Here’s where the film bounces back and forth with flash forwards and flashbacks, never a good idea. I’ll tell the plot linearly.
They break in and there is a room of computers with the patient ledger. On the computers is a video introducing their product, the C68 biochip, and it’s being used under the Fox Hole Project. Several men come in with guns and shoot Jimmy then the woman with the hat saves Arthur and kills them. This is all staged, because Jimmy is one of them. She tells him to call her Elsa and she takes him to a safe house with Sheriff Santiago. They talk about Dr. Victor Canton who created the biochip that tracks people and, if they go where they aren’t supposed to go, explodes and kills them. They’re using it for border control under a new project name Oryon. She tells him where Canton will be in the morning and that he killed his daughter. He ordered the hit and run because Arthur was digging into the John Doe’s murder. So where do they get their victims? They lure immigrants there with the promise of free housing. All they have to do is be patients in medical testing.
The next day Canton meets the chip buyers at the small airport and takes them to the truck stop. Elsa and Arthur are waiting. Elsa shoots all of them, including Sheriff Santiago, except Canton. She leaves him for Arthur. Canton admits that he ordered the hit and run on Arthur’s family so Arthur shoots him repeatedly. Elsa tells him to return to his motel and she’ll take care of everything. She calls in the murders and herself as a witness saying Arthur killed everyone.
Shelly (Heather Graham), his friend/counselor/lawyer, arrives with her boyfriend, who conveniently is an FBI agent. He arrests Arthur and he’s taken to a mental institution where he is heavily sedated. Elsa put a dead body in Arthur’s trunk wearing Jimmy’s clothes. He was decapitated so there could be no identification. So Arthur is also charged with Jimmy’s murder. Before Arthur is taken to the mental institution, Elsa and Jimmy pay him a visit in jail and tell him he’s their patsy. Ridiculous.
At the end of the film, Arthur barricades his room and digs out the implant in his chest. Meanwhile, Shelly gets a package in the mail with all the photos Arthur took and the USB flash drive with the video. So the whole thing was real.
0 out of 10 stars. So many plot holes. Such stupid dialogue. This was written by Tim Doiron and directed by April Mullen who both produced the film. Producers and directors should not write their own films. They’re not writers.
Flaws in the Plot
- Paranoid people never register themselves as anything, certainly not a PI where their vehicle would also be registered.
- Paranoid people don’t leave their pills out to be tampered with. They carry them with them.
- Paranoid people don’t leave their cars unlocked.
- Psychotic breaks do not produce such detailed events that have corresponding “real events”.
- There was no sterility in the truck stop at all. It was filthy and dark. A true experiment, especially one of this magnitude, would have real doctors and a real lab setting.
- Entrance to the lab was a hole in the floor. So dumb. In fact, Arthur falls through it.
This was a very low budget film with four buildings, two cars, and a desert. It’s a shame they used such famous actors to get people to watch.
Unfortunately, the dumb plot is just the beginning. The dialogue is absolutely wretched and so unrealistic. People in Texas don’t talk this way. Do your research.