Into the Storm: Armitage is Best When He Doesn’t Speak

All I wanted from Into the Storm was that Richard Armitage not make a fool of himself, either with a substandard American accent or a subpar performance. Disaster avoided, but pleasant surprise, denied.

With some rare exceptions, most of Armitage’s part of the script were one-liners. Watch out Run! Are you OK? I gotta find my son. Trey!!? Delivered at high volume, screaming, yelling, it’s difficult to make any assessment. If there was one cringe-worthy bit, IMO,that was the unfortunate chain of dialogue,  whoa, ohhhh, whoa. when they were in the storm drain toward the end of the movie and he was hanging on for dear life to avoid getting sucked out of the drain.

Honestly, I never want to hear Armitage do whoa, oh again. There might have been some of this in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,  especially when the bridge gives way in the goblin tunnels and we’re treated to amazing feats of gravity defiance. I’d have to look back to be certain, but I think it was left to other, less, “majestic” dwarves, and anyway, I didn’t notice it.

I thought that in the first scene, when Gary is trying to assuage a whiny, combative Donnie, who in a fit of peak decided to bike it to school instead of getting in the carrrrr ( that rhotic R, to be discussed later), Armitage did alright. Soft tones in a beseeching manner, some notes of regret, intentional stepping on lines – not bad.Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 7.24.53 AM But, the best of Richard Armitage the actor, aside from Richard Armitage the gorgeous, can be seen in a series of small scenes, when he says nothing at all.

Gary is in Allison’s van on his way to rescue Donnie, who is stranded at the old mill. ( “What’s that Lassie? Timmy is stuck in a mine and can’t get out? You want us to follow you? We should bring shovels and a knife”?)

Trey, riding behind in the Titus, has just suggested a better route to get around some downed power lines. Allison overhears the conversation, and says, That’s a good kid you have there. And Armitage turns his head around, looks down, and gives us a smirk, maybe closer to a smile, that lets us know that he thinks, yeah, maybe I do. A small gesture that said enough.

Next up, they have switched to the Titus after the van gets wrecked. Now, the situation is more dire because Gary has heard Donnie’s cell message, and he knows that Donnie is in distress, as there is water pouring into their location. To me, this was the most suspenseful, actually, the only suspenseful scene in the film. Armitage, sitting in passenger seat, telegraphs such believable tension and anxiety with his body language – that I could feel it myself, and I knew how it would end.

The tension in his shoulders. Leaning forward, and then back. Ant in his pants. The frantic wiping of the windshield, pounding his thigh. For me, it worked. Oh, and the familiar gesture of a friend we know well, the hands covering face. This part was Ok, and somehow, I think this was Richard Armitage without the benefit of specific direction.

What about Richard Armitage’s American accent? I would have to say it was just so-so and very inconsistent – though, when it was it at his worst, he didn’t exactly sound British, either. I can’t actually explain it, and I listened countless times, but most of the time he sounded like Richard Armitage, American or not. Like many British actors doing American accents, he has trouble with the rhotic R which is the R at the end of words – like  car or Chester. Brits make the r sound too hard, I think because they form it the same way they form the sound at the beginning or middle of the word, which involves different mouth movements. The final R is usually made by sort of closing your throat and pushing your tongue up. It’s slightly swallowed, while the initial R is pursing the lips a little more. Anyway, that’s how it happens when you’re from NY ( which happens to be one of the regions where the rhotic R is often ignored altogether, but is replaced with R’s where you don’t need them at all – the intrusive R.)

Richard Armitage got it right a few times, but not always. I thought he also had some closed vowels, bringing out his midlands accent throughout the film. To enhance his Americanisms, he used a lot of gottas and gonnas – except in one instance, which was, for me, one of the low points. He’s using gotta and gonna throughout his dialogue, and then, all of a sudden, when they’re driving again, and when he’s speaking under strain and anxiety and panic, he says, in perfect diction, we’re not going to make it, perfectly articulating going to. For me, it was a fail.

So, I’d have to say, he didn’t sound that American some of the times, but he didn’t sound British, either. There’s room for improvement. On the other hand, I thought Max Deacon, who is also a Brit, was perfect in his American accent.

So, yeah, Armitage is best when he says nothing in this film.

10 thoughts on “Into the Storm: Armitage is Best When He Doesn’t Speak

  1. Pingback: Perry’s Not the Only One Who Thinks Armitage is Best When He Doesn’t Speak | Armitage Agonistes

  2. While I can’t comment on the effectiveness of RA’s American accent (sounded legit to me, but I am a foreigner *ggg*), I nonetheless agree with you on the general statement. Well, to put it slightly differently: I think RA is most effective when he acts physically, with his body, and without words. That was one of the things I took from seeing him in TC. I felt you could really tell he had a b’ground in physical theatre, and that his movements were all perfectly adapted to the situation he was playing. The words, the modulation, the tone, the emphasis – not always convinced me. Well, but still enough to find him marvellous as an actor 😉
    I am interested to hear what other Americans have to say about his accent.


        • No. Talking about two different posts. Not repeating yourself at all. As to the American accent, it didn’t seem to be a big issue one way or another with the fans who commented on the film. But it was something that was important to me from the beginning. No one would say, ” that was a terrible American accent.” But I wouldn’t say, as Todd Garner did, that he nailed it.


    • I will also say that when I saw him in The Pinter Screenplay, I noted someplace, not sure where, that his low registers were sometimes hard to hear in the theater – but the comment about The Crucible doesn’t seem to be aimed at that.


  3. I agree that his American accent was inconsistent. During TC, my husband thought his diction suffered when he turned up his volume. That was observed by someone else, as well. I didn’t notice it at all during the performance.


    • Thanks for the comment. I thought his American accent was odd. But I have to believe that with more practice and study than he had in prep for ITS, he can perfect it.


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