Harpoon is an 80-minute slice of meanness out of Canada that focuses on three friends - a term used loosely in this case - who endure a crisis of relationship when their boat gets marooned in the middle of the ocean with no rescue likely. If that sounds like a recipe for a whole shitload of yelling, you’re right! It’s a decent movie anyway.
Cheeky narration introduces us to our protagonists: Richard - the violent and angry son of a local crime boss who also appears to have some sort of heart of gold, his girlfriend Sasha, a nurse who has to spend most of her time mending the consequences of Richard’s rage, and Jonah, a sadsack loser who only seems like an innocent nice guy on the surface.
As you can probably already ascertain, Harpoon has toxic masculinity on the mind. One form overt, the other passive. As the film progresses, it becomes unclear which is worse. But in its early goings, Harpoon comes close to blowing its believability with Richard, whose violent tendencies, while certainly based on real-life male behavior, seems too common and too extreme to sustain any kind of relationship without eventually getting thrown in jail. We basically meet him as he charges into Jonah’s house on suspicions that Jonah and Sasha are having an affair and beats Jonah’s face in until it is bloody and broken. The matter gets resolved and they all go out to Richard’s boat almost as if nothing happened, followed by montage imagery of everyone having a blast, as if Jonah and Sasha wouldn’t be walking on egg shells the entire time, constantly terrified of Richard’s next outburst.
It takes a while to get used to Richard’s casual extremity, especially since we get so much of it right as the film begins. Luckily, this troublesome aspect gets smoothed over a bit once the film hits its desperate second act and trio finds itself in survival mode.
You can probably tell where some of this is going. As the three have nothing to do but converse, their various issues with each other start coming to light. Meanwhile, dehydration and starvation bring the added stressor of potential cannibalism into the mix. So it’s safe to say things get tense.
Harpoon is mean when it needs to remind us how serious the situation is. It can also be funny at times. And gory. Its main fault is not quite nailing a believable trio of relationships between these three characters. They just don’t quite make sense together. But the tension and gore tends to steamroll this concern and make it work regardless.