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dir-scr Brian A Miller
prd Phillip B Goldfine, Christine Holder, Mark Holder
with Craig Fairbrass, Jason Patric, James Caan, Shannon Elizabeth, Melissa Ordway, Johnny Messner, Tim Fields, David Danello, William deVry, Brian A Miller, Zack Tiegen, Chelsea Bruland
release US 7.Feb.14
Let's make a deal: Fairbrass and Messner
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
This thriller is so basic that it feels like writer-director Miller's only research into the criminal underworld was watching lots of TV series. But even if nothing feels realistic, the plot and style are so familiar that we get caught up in the story. And the urgent tone hides the script's underlying silliness.
A tactical officer working for a military contractor, Lex (Fairbrass) is called from the front to claim the body of his daughter Samantha in Los Angeles. Except that it's not her body. So Lex launches his own investigation, starting with her boss Schuuster (Caan) at a shady corporation. But Lex gets no help from police Detective Klein (Patric), who's suspicious of his hot temper. Then a local woman (Elizabeth) leads Lex to Samantha's boyfriend Ricky (Messner). And the plot thickens, as it were, even further when he finds Samantha (Ordway).
Fairbrass' meathead performance matches the blunt screenplay, while Caan has a great time channelling charming/vicious gangster-mode Robert De Niro. By contrast, everyone else is rather bland (the female roles are particularly thankless). At least Patric adds some steeliness, plus a hint of welcome subtext in his banter with detective partner Fields. But just a bit more earthy humanity, specifically some off-the-cuff humour, would have made it much less corny.
Because Miller's cop-show tone and simplistic dialog eliminate every moment of ambiguity. We always know what to think and who the good and bad guys are in each scene. Every action sequence is strictly by the book, so there isn't a single surprise in the entire movie. And this leaves the more dramatic scenes feeling badly undercooked even though there are some decent themes that the cast and crew could easily have explored.
The central McGuffin has to do with phishing scams and identity theft, which is timely but never remotely compelling. The script tries to blind us with a ludicrously over-complicated explanations, but we don't remotely care, especially when it all boils down to breaking into Schuuster's safe room. More interesting would be an exploration of the estranged father-daughter relationship. But after setting it up so carefully, it's as if Miller just forgot about it entirely. And the film so numbs your brain that you might not notice either.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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