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Despite some wildly implausible plot twists and a flashy high concept this Chinese thriller is a film to induce a gentle drooping of the eyelids. Xu Zheng plays Zhong Xiaonian, a filthy rich investor who has been rigging the stock market for years. He groggily wakes up one morning to find himself trapped inside his Bond villain-ish modernist pad with no mobile reception and just his sanctimonious kidnapper at the end of a walkie-talkie for company.
His mysterious captor announces that Zhong must pay the price for his dodgy dealings (a plotline that could charitably be described as inspired by the Saw franchise). For the next five days, when the markets open at 9.30am, Zhong will be made to choose which of his secrets is revealed to a TV news channel. First up: (a) reveal his long history of tax evasion or (b) announce his marriage split? Since Zhong is a bit like Warren Buffett, Richard Branson and George Clooney rolled into one clickbaity national celebrity, the media jumps all over the revelations, while Zhong plots his escape.
There are plot holes here larger than a billionaire’s bank balance. For a start, the surveillance evidence amassed by Zhong’s kidnapper would put a strain on the combined resources of Russia’s FSB and Silicon Valley. The film deserves some points for peering into the lives of China’s super-elite, but the convoluted script frantically throws too much in and, in the end, pulls its anti-consumerist punches. Overdone and underwhelming, A or B is like cinematic drops of lavender on the pillow; I found myself digging my fingernails into my palms to keep awake.
Source: The Guardian
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