Any drastic event, let alone the Iraq war, could have triggered the minuscule New York story in Cole’s debut. Exactly three genuine political opinions are uttered, one of which is: “I love the freedom I have here to be a fuck-up.” And that’s about the most sobering thought Day Zero has to offer.
Furthermore, it’s absurd that the three central characters, who each receive 30-day Iraq draft notices, are supposed to be lifelong friends. Rich lefty lawyer Chris Klein tries to use his daddy’s connections to dodge the draft. Tuff-talkin’ cab driver Jon Bernthal chides Klein for his supposed cowardice until a romantic interest (Elisabeth Moss) softens him. Best is Elijah Wood, as a fledgling writer who just wants to skydive and sleep around before serving abroad. Wearing hipster-approved “Croquet Champ” t-shirts and muttering wonderfully irrelevant asides, like — lamenting his sub-A1 body type — ”I’m fat and skinny at the same time,” his self-loathing character belongs in Spike Jonze territory.
Klein and Bernthal are burdened with the heavy scenes, and their overwrought approach confounds Rob Malkani’s already hackneyed script. Klein still registers like a stiffer Keanu Reeves; he can’t even eat a salami slice naturally. As for Bernthal, he expresses anger and pensiveness the same way: through flared nostrils and squints that make him indistinguishable from a sewer rat.
Opens January 18