Is there such a thing as a bad genius? Does it not depend on how the individual utilises their brainpower? If they are to create great work, then good on them. However, in the case of Lynn (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying), they are using their brains for financial gain and a haemorrhaging of the education system. How you feel about such an assault with an exam-cheating business depends entirely on how much you hated schooling and the system built within it. It is an ineffective system, in the United Kingdom at least. For Thailand, who knows? To some degree, it must be failing, for Nattawut Poonpiriya has directed a piece that looks to show how easy it is to exploit the exam boards for financial profit.
Where Bad Genius succeeds is in taking a principally standard formula to its extreme. How far can one business opportunity go? Exam-cheating is prevalent and frequent. Essay writers contact us from time to time, asking if we students would like to employ them to crack out 2,000 words at £50 a pop. Can that be stretched further? Are there people who do this full-time and freelance? Probably, and Bad Genius wishes to explore such an avenue. Lynn is so brilliant a student that, beyond helping herself and her friends achieve good grades, she can start charging students from all over the place high-end prices for top tier rewards.
But it is when Bad Genius begins to implement elements of thriller that it falls apart. That final chase between Lynn and a test administrator is somewhat effective, but its build-up is wavering on the side of unbelievable. Still, Poonpiriya manages to get so far with the story always feeling a little larger than life. It is an adaptable feeling, one that does make for some enjoyable moments, but when any thicker layer of emotion is unveiled, especially in the third act, it feels somewhat weak. Lynn coming clean and confessing her misdirection gives us the moral balance and bow to tie it all together. What else could we expect?
Let us be fair, there is no way a film uncovering moments of cheating and scandal in the education system could end any other way beyond telling its audience to stop doing that sort of thing. Down with this sort of thing, stop cheating on systems that are faulty and poorly cobbled together. Again, at least in the United Kingdom, anyway. Bad Genius is good fun and has some surprisingly effective moments within it. Tucked away beyond the morality of cheating are good performances from a strong cast and some nice, sleek direction from Poonpiriya. It is a film that will not inspire true elation or tension, but all the components are there, and the crew behind it are more than capable of putting together an entertaining time. Sometimes, that is all we need. An entertaining bit of crime blended into an adaptable, relatable setting. We all know someone who cheated on a test. It could be you. I bet it is.