10 Cent Pistol
dir-scr Michael C Martin
prd Damon Alexander, JT Alexander
with Jena Malone, JT Alexander, Damon Alexander, Joe Mantegna, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Adam Arkin, Brendan Sexton III, Jessica Szohr, Emilio Rivera, Colby French, Joseph Julian Soria, Elaine Kagan
release US 24.Jul.15
14/US 1h31
10 Cent Pistol
Brothers in trouble: Damon and JT Alexander

malone mantegna arkin
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
10 Cent Pistol With a darkly cutting edge, this crime thriller follows two low-life thugs who are trying to survive after stealing a stash of cash from the mob. Jarring editing and a fragmented script make it tricky to follow, but as the pieces fall into place the film becomes entertainingly twisty. Sadly, the emotional kick comes far too late.

Brothers Jake and Easton (played by producers JT and Damon Alexander) find themselves on the wrong side of mob boss Punchy (Mantegna) after an encounter with Russian gangsters goes horribly wrong. Easton takes the fall and goes to jail, a Punchy saves his wrath for Jake. So when Easton is released early, he and Jake send Easton's wannabe-actress girlfriend Danneel (Malone) to seduce Punchy's son Harris (Nicholas), so they can steal his fortune. And this is complicated by the presence of their chucklehead friend Donny (Sexton) and two nosey cops (French and Soria).

Writer-director Martin gives the film a loose and lively vibe, with clever photography and editing that add both tension and comical undertones. The snappy dialog adds to the unpredictability, even as the script indulges in far too many crosses and double-crosses, flickering back and forth in time to various harrowing encounters. As a result, the overall narrative only becomes clear after the pieces fall into place at the end, which is the point when we finally understand the true connections between these people.

Since they refuse to reveal themselves, the characters are almost impossible to engage with, further muddled by the smug voice-over narration. Still, the actors give realistic performances that add layers of intrigue and doubt. As if the criminal entanglements weren't messy enough, there's also a complex romantic triangle centred on Malone's enigmatic Danneel, who clearly isn't as dim as she lets on. And all of the characters' secrets add to the dark suspense as most scenes play out two or three times, from different perspectives.

The film is also gleefully violent, wallowing in gruesome encounters and revelling in the fact that everyone on-screen is morally bankrupt. As suspicions grow, the characters care less and less about each other. So the tension builds, and the movie abandons its biting wit for much blacker emotions. In the end, it's rather difficult to see the point, beyond how easy it is for us to manipulate each other even when we don't know what we hope to gain.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 16.Jul.15

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... 10 Cent Pistol Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall