I hate car alarms as much as the next guy, but make a feature film -- with Tim Robbins and William Hurt -- as a thinly-veiled diatribe against noise pollution? That's about as obsessive as it gets.
Noise offers Robbins as David Owen, a supernaturally angry New Yorker who eventually snaps after one too many car alarms distrub his piece and quiet. Rather than, say, move out of Manhattan, Owen takes a hammer, baseball bat, wire cutters, and whatever else is handy to demolish cars that ring out for no reason. Later he moves on to wayward building alarms (apparently a problem in New York). Soon he's running an organized, mapped-out campaign as "The Rectifier," disabling vehicles and cutting their battery wires across the city, leaving behind a sticker as a calling card.
Naturally, the people are divided: Some love what he's doing, but vigilante justice doesn't sit well with the mayor (William Hurt), who does all he can to catch the guy. Meanwhile, Owen's wife (Bridget Moynahan) becomes alienated by his increasing anger and obsession, and Owen is kicked out of the house.
At this point the simple story starts to wander, as Owen falls in with a Russian immigrant girl who's on to his secret identity. She's got a relationship with the mayor, and an abortive cat and mouse game ensues. It all ends up with Owen in court: He's taking the defensive for setting off his own super-powered car alarm on purpose in order to anger a judge... so he can set a precedent that loud noises can be classified as assault.
It's kind of a dull way to end a film that starts off with such subterfuge -- Robbins slinking around in the night like Batman -- but, then again, it's ultimately a feature film about noise pollution, so what else was director Henry Bean gonna do? It's certainly a far cry from Bean's only other film to date: The Believer. But at least he's working with some top talent, and everyone turns in a solid performance, despite some rather staid material they're working with.
The DVD includes a commentary track, interviews, and a behind-the-scenes featurette.
I can't hear you!