Bad Genius: A Thrilling, Unconventional Heist Film


If you’re looking for an unconventional thriller, Bad Genius is for you. The main cast of Bad Genius poses for a poster on Netflix. “I really thought that the character portrayals were really well done,” said Emma Latinision ‘21.

Caitlin Treacy, A&E Editor

When you think of a thriller heist, what do you think of? They typically follow a group of seasoned criminals trying to pull off an elaborate plan to get what they want. Films like Ocean’s Eleven, Reservoir Dogs, or Baby Driver come to mind. But a heist film doesn’t always have to fit that mold.

Bad Genius is a Thai film released in 2017 that follows genius student Lynn as she devises ways to make money off of helping her classmates cheat on tests. With her bubbly friend Grace, Grace’s rich boyfriend Pat, and fellow top student and reluctant collaborator Bank, she tackles her biggest challenge yet: getting answers to the STIC test (an international version of the SAT that is required for admissions to U.S. colleges). Their plans involve learning hand signals based on piano notes, printing the answers on the barcode of a pencil, and even going to Australia to take the STIC before it happens in Thailand. 

Watching a film about taking tests may seem boring, but with the way Bad Genius is shot, paced, and edited, it has viewers on the edge of their seats. “The film was very good, but very aggravating to watch,” said Lilianna Kelly ‘21. Even when the character’s schemes were low stakes, the tension was so strong that it had audiences holding their breaths. 

While the action is the showcase, the characters are the heart of the film. Lynn is a genius who has great potential, but is unable to afford tuition to her school. Pat and Grace, who are privileged in every way except in intelligence, lead Lynn down a rabbit hole to help them, and other paying classmates achieve their goals. Bank, despite being firmly against cheating, is swept up in their plans because he desperately needs the money. “Bank from beginning to end felt like he just kept changing, almost like a new character in every scene, which was interesting,” said Emma Latinision ‘21.

The character dynamics lend themselves to the central theme of classism and unfairness. The film comments on how students like Lynn and Bank, despite their smarts, are at a disadvantage because they’re not as well-off. Both characters are lured into the world of cheating because of the promise of money, and Grace and Pat egg them on for their own gain. Their dynamics explore and expose the  unfair mechanisms of society.

The technical and stylistic aspects of the film are also well put together. The editing is key here. Each shot and scene are planned perfectly to give the right amount of tension, and the color grading is sleek and stylish. They lend themselves well to the subject of the movie. Overall, Bad Genius seems like it was made with care and polished for perfection. The unconventional yet thrilling action paired with the interesting characters and themes makes for an entertaining and thought-provoking watch. This is a great movie for anyone wanting to watch more international films. If you want to watch, Bad Genius is currently streaming on Netflix.