Viper Club Never Reaches Full Potential

Matt Bomer and Susan Sarandon in VIPER CLUB. Courtesy of YouTube Premium and Roadside Attractions.

In spite of the material’s importance, it felt as if Viper Club was lacking something in getting across the film’s message.

Make no mistake that it’s a bummer that Viper Club isn’t a better film than it should have been.  This is a film who tells the story of emergency room nurse Helen Sterling (Susan Sarandon).  While the Oscar winner is fine actress and does what she can with the material, her performance alone isn’t enough for the film.  Helen as a way of being able to use her voice and take a stand when needed such as with the doctors where she works.

To those around her–including patients–Helen appears to be a strong woman.  She acts like a person who anybody would want as a role model.  It’s a public front so to speak as Helen is just trying to keep it together.  She has to be strong not only for herself but for her son, Andy (Julian Morris).  The freelance video journalist had been taken hostage in the Middle East by a terrorist organization.  Even though the FBI and State Department have forced her into silence, Helen feels like there’s something more that they can do.  The government makes her stall when a $20 million ransom is suddenly demanded.  The reason for this is that the government simply doesn’t care.  It’s truly a saddening moment when you realize that there’s no plan in place to bring him home.

The silence is the worst of it even as Helen does her best to be remain strong.  With the government unlikely to act, Helen turns to the Viper Club.  This club consists of journalists, translators, contractors, and the wealthy people with money to add those victims in war zones.  Helen learns of the group through Andy’s ex-girlfriend, Sheila (Sheila Vand).  Soon thereafter, she meets with Charlotte (Edie Falco).  Charlotte soon turns Andy’s case over to Sam (Matt Bomer).  In turn, Sam helps Helen in an attempt to get Andy back.  All they can do is try but Helen has some decisions of her own that she has to make.  Whether it’s enough for her son and his fate is the question at hand.

The theme that Maryam Keshavarz and Jonathan Mastro explore in their script is about Helen letting go of her son.   No parent should have to go through the excruciating pain of losing their son.  Worst of all is that the government doesn’t appear to do enough in bringing him home safely.  The film isn’t without controversy.  While the film is fictional, the script does take some inspiration from the life of slain journalist James Foley.  James’ mother, Diane Foley, has made her opinions known but this should not detract you from how you view the film.

Led largely on the heels of Susan Sarandon’s performance as Helen Sterling, Viper Club falls short of reaching its fullest potential.

DIRECTOR:  Maryam Keshavarz
SCREENWRITERS:  Maryam Keshavarz and Jonathan Mastro
CAST:  Susan Sarandon, Matt Bomer, Lola Kirke, Julian Morris, Shelia Vand, Adepero Oduye, and Edie Falco

YouTube Originals and Roadside Attractions opened Viper Club in theaters on October 26, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.