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Horror and war without much payoff in 'Tank 432'

Horror and war without much payoff in 'Tank 432'
Rupert Evans in the movie "Tank 432." (IFC Midnight)

Writer-director Nick Gillespie's horror/war hybrid "Tank 432" aims for queasily unsettling ambiguity, but lands in a place that's more tedious and confusing. Similar to the work of the film's producer, Ben Wheatley — for whom Gillespie regularly works as a camera operator — "Tank 432" is a genre piece that's often too intellectualized to connect on a visceral level.

The title refers to the abandoned vehicle that a group of armed British mercenaries stumble across while fleeing a mysterious enemy. The group climbs into the tank about 25 minutes into the movie, and the next hour consists of them slowly going bonkers in the cramped space while menaced by a threat that may not be what it seems.

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"Tank 432" doesn't do much to establish the characters or their situation before everything goes awry. The film sports a top-flight cast from Britain — including Rupert Evans as the mentally unstable hero and comedian Michael Smiley as a colleague trapped outside — but Gillespie strands the actors in a surreal, existential nightmare where nothing's explained until close to the end.

The director has a knack for constructing striking images, especially in the movie's kaleidoscopic flashback/dream sequences. But he never provides enough of a context for viewers to care about what they might mean. A few memorable shots don't offer enough justification to watch a film that's not scary, rarely exciting and never as engrossing a puzzle as it means to be.

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'Tank 432'

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes.

Playing: Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood

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