Harpoon is director Rob Grant’s most conventional film to date but retains the staunchly independent qualities that define his films. His latest effort possesses the barest of plots: survival when stuck at sea. This simplistic narrative works to Grant’s advantage though.
Grant and co-writer Mike Kovac take a typically dramatic situation and approach it as a black comedy. They poke fun at common tropes of similar scenarios and, as a result, construct a consistently unpredictable film. It never takes itself seriously, clear from the opening moments as a narrator casually commentates a violent altercation between close friends.
After, the three friends set sail for their favourite activity – fishing. Or simply being at sea, it is never addressed. When the boat refuses to start after they decide to head home, the absurdity of their situations is cemented. Richard (Christopher Gray), the boat’s owner, is far from the sharpest tool: the radio doesn’t work and provisions are low as he assumed the trip would be short.
No matter how serious matters becomes, Grant masters the dark comedic tone. His sarcastic narrator makes this bluntly clear as the action becomes increasingly void of nuance, intentional of course. Several contradictions and the reactions they spark generate genuine darkly funny moments.
Given the style of comedy, it is hard to see Grant expanding his audience, but I doubt he cares. He’s proudly an independent director, achieving his vision regardless of budget: three actors and a boat are enough for Harpoon to work its magic. The film isn’t for everyone, but those it aims for are guaranteed a fun 90 minutes.