I Came By movie review and movie summary (2022)

George MacKay of “1917” stars Toby, a young graffiti artist who has the unique MO of not painting his art in public for all to see, but in the private homes of the rich and powerful. With his buddy Jay (Percelle Ascott), Toby breaks into expensive homes and tags a wall with the phrase “I Came By.” Why? It’s not entirely clear, but Toby probably likes to make those isolated from society realize that they are also vulnerable. He will learn that this is not always the case.

After Jay breaks up the duo because his girlfriend’s pregnancy causes him to change his priorities, Toby decides to do the next job alone. This leads him to the home of a former judge named Hector Blake (Hugh Bonneville, relishes the opportunity to turn his stately demeanor into something menacing), resembling a distinguished member of his society. Inside Blake’s basement, Toby sees a light under a hidden door and finds, yes, you’ve probably seen “Don’t Breathe.”

This isn’t quite that movie though, as Toby doesn’t get into a battle of wills with Blake. “I Came By” moves the protagonists here to Toby’s mother (Kelly Macdonald), who becomes increasingly concerned that her 23-year-old son has disappeared from the face of the earth. Her quest to find him takes her into the lives of Jay and Anvari and the co-author Namsi Khan have at least one more POV left turn to take as their film pieces together the story of Blake’s dark secrets and Toby’s fate.

Anvari’s film seems almost more interested in its social consciousness than in raising the pulse of the viewer. Blake is the kind of guy who can drop the name of his police chief buddy during an investigation to protect himself from investigation. There’s an element to “I Came By” that isn’t so much about what happens behind closed doors as it is about how often powerful people can get away with murder in plain sight. Bonneville sees this kind of haughty evil—the kind that knows it’s too powerful to get into trouble, right? In fact, his performance arguably shifts the film’s balance a bit too much, with the “good guys” not feeling like they have enough character to counter it. MacKay is particularly shallow as Toby, though that might be part of the point. There’s a reading of this film that it’s about a young man making hollow moves against a system he hasn’t really taken the time to understand or sufficiently fear.

“I Came By” is undeniably well composed and entertaining enough that its missteps are overlooked most of the time. Yes, it’s a rewrite that lacks grandeur, but Bonneville makes it worth a visit, even if its final pin drop over the credits is indicative of its shallowness. Yes, of course, “Everybody wants to rule the world.” What is new?

On Netflix now.

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