What is most fascinating about Joker isn't the titular character, nor is it the landscape he's placed in. There's little (if any) detail to the performances or the setting that isn't already present on a fundamental level. What you see is what you get. Joaquin Phoenix GOOD?!? Great, water is wet. Next question. The slog of Todd Phillips' latest venture has one constant - this movie is so desperate to distract the viewer from the fact that it has no original, or even compelling, ideas of its own. Anything about class or race or mental illness has been discussed in other, better comic-book movies that were also not afraid to be comic-book movies! If you're going to portray your entire film as a "heist" (as in, stealing money from the studio to make a 'real movie'), you better put that to good use.

Sadly, what Joker demonstrates is a dishonesty towards commercial cinema, stumbling around as if any of us won't remember those 'old-tymey' movies like Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy, or The French Connection. It rips moments and characters straight out of those films (context included), and decides that it'll work as mere fabrication. Sure, it's pretty, but what's the point of it looking like Travis Bickle's nightmare odyssey if it doesn't dissect the space or care to interrogate its interaction with our main character? Yeah, it mentions the dominance of media, but is satire of the 'talk show' host the right political angle for 2019? Nope. Even as a movie for incels, it's hopelessly outdated. This movie jumps on a soap-box to plead its case, but nothing noteworthy bursts out of its mouth. It's a bunch of reheated gibberish.

Even some of the ideas that do seem to offer a promising start are not supported by the film, as it is completely without a coherent POV or a social foundation to lead to the inevitable climax. It assumes that the viewer can follow along to the rhythms of Phoenix's performance and the basic plot structure, but there's no meat on the bone. For a film that has caused major police presence in theaters and heightened security awareness, this is a harmless, stupid, plagiarizing flop that yearns to be provocative. It's not shocking, or engaging, or deeply uncomfortable like the films it steals from. It does have *one* aspect over them, however. It's boring.

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