Ned (Jeremy Renner) is a troubled person, growing up he worshiped his father, who as it turned out was a bit of a crook and sent to prison. Not having much of an identity of his own, he makes friends with a bunch of guys who are part of the Aryan Brotherhood. It isn’t too long until Ned finds himself in a mental institution, causing all sorts of trouble. However he mets Rachel (Gabrielle Union), an African-American woman who believes she is the reincarnation of one Adolf Hitler. Ned becomes fascinated with Rachel, and the two form a friendship. Soon after Ned gets released from the hospital, but his relationship with Rachel is only just beginning. These two characters learn about each other, and want they really want out of life.
Neo Ned was quite a quirky and interesting film, and I really liked it a lot. It was a strange mixture of drama, romance and comedy, with two very different characters at the heart of it all. Ned is a strange one, I didn’t quite buy he truly believed what the Aryan’s preached, he was more of a lost soul. Rachel was somebody who was fractured, having dealt with abuse in her younger years, and a child waiting for her outside the hospital. The strange bond that forms with these characters is actually sweet, each finds the other interesting, and in a way they needed each other to work out what they wanted. Along the way there are some quirky side characters but the film belongs to those two. From the start of the film I was fully invested in the character of Ned, and soon after Rachel as well. I don’t really want to reveal too much more, the film works by going in it with no real prior knowledge.
Jeremy Renner and Gabrielle Union are both just outstanding in their roles, they played off each other with such perfection. They both easily captured the comedy side of things, as well as the dramatic side. These two characters could easily have failed, but they both make something out of them, they bring them to life. I would easily rate this as one of Renner’s finest performances, probably his best comedic role too. He is just so engaging as Ned, no matter what comes out of his mouth you can’t help but like the guy. Renner has a natural charm, and it works so well for Ned. I have to say the same thing about Union’s performance, she has never been better. I have been a fan of hers since She’s All That, and seeing her here in something so different was a great surprise. She made me really care about Rachel, and I believed the pain she was in. When these two characters connect, it feels so natural and despite how strange it is, it just works. There are some great smaller roles by Ethan Suplee (He’ll always be Seth from American History X to me) as an orderly who befriends Ned, Eddie Kaye Thomas (Finch from American Pie) as another patient who Ned hangs out with, Cary Elwes (The almighty Dr Gordon from Saw) as the Doctor and therapist and Sally Kirkland as Ned’s mother.
I can’t imagine this film would appeal to everyone, but I think it is definitely worth a chance all the same. The two leads are fantastic and if you are fans of either of them, I would put this down as required viewing. I do like these quirky type’s of films, and this really catered to me. Thing’s are handled in such an entertaining way, I never found the film boring, the pace was smooth and it had a sharp script. It is great to find such a gem every so often, something unexpected which manages to surprise. Ultimately I felt the film was a success from start to finish, and in a strange way it had one of those uplifting endings. I wasn’t entirely sure where this film would end up, and I was pleasantly surprised. Neo Ned gets my seal of approval.