When architect Vincent (Karl Urban) debuts his swanky new high-rise building in the downtown of an unnamed American city, he has an unscrupulous plan in mind for a vacant loft apartment. He tells his motley gang of pals—Chris (James Marsden), Luke (Wentworth Miller), Philip (Matthias Schoenaerts), and Marty (Eric Stonestreet)—that they should use the apartment as a discreet meeting place for their extramarital affairs. After some convincing, the five men make a secret pact to indulge in the loft as their “private oasis” of debauchery.
Director Erik Van Looy has remade his successful 2008 Belgian thriller Loft in order to appeal to an American audience. This version was shot in 2011, and after delays related to distribution rights, it finally opened in the U.S. in early 2015.
While the pitfalls of their secret agreement seem incredibly obvious, the men are either too stupid or too sex-obsessed to acknowledge them. One morning, the meek Luke discovers a murdered woman in the bed of the loft, sending the gang into panic mode. They all convene at the apartment and see their dreams of consequence-free cheating come crashing down. The majority of The Loft is told through convoluted flashbacks, as the viewer is bounced back and forth across a timeline of the group’s infidelity and morally reprehensible behavior. Van Looy leads us much further down the rabbit hole of the men’s lives than is essential to the story; many of the facts and events become ancillary once he introduces a series of plot bait and switches as the men try to uncover the killer.
Each ultra-yuppie member of the crew seems like a caricature that matches up to their assigned, one-dimensional role. Stonestreet’s character of Marty is especially cringe-worthy: The oft-drunk buffoon attempts to brighten up the first half of the movie with chauvinistic off-color humor, but only leaves viewers wondering why the guy from Modern Family is patronizing them. Wentworth Miller gives an uninspired effort as Luke, the reserved nerd of the clique. Urban and Marsden try out their best Patrick Bateman impressions, but their characters are too paper-thin to be memorable. Matthias Schoenaerts returns as the only holdover cast member from the earlier incarnation of the film. His overly aggressive portrayal of Philip Trauner (Filip in the 2008 version) throws subtlety to the wind and leaves a lot to be desired.
The film’s biggest problem is that Van Looy tries to develop a major plot twist but can’t come up with a satisfying payoff. The screenplay by Wesley Strick and Bart De Pauw contains a great deal of foreshadowing and clues about what will happen next, and when the winding tale is finished, few will be surprised. Plot holes and unnecessary scenes abound, which is strange since these things should have been cleaned up over the course of two different versions of this story. The film drags on far too long for a whodunit mystery of such little depth, all while convinced that it’s outsmarting the viewer. Can we send this one back to Belgium?