A movie of two halves – the first half excellent; the second, utter drivel.
I’m not too sure what I expected when I started to watch this film, but within the first minute, I was hooked. A couple are awoken by the noise of an intruder downstairs and the terrified husband bravely decides to go and see what’s going on. He takes his father’s gun with him which he has taken out of an old shoe-box. He creeps downstairs, his gun shaking in his hand, pulls the trigger by accident and the intruder is shot dead.
My wife, who is Thai, asked me why the man wasn’t arrested, but I explained to her that this was America, that everyone had a gun and they were within their rights to shoot an intruder in their home. She asked if he would have to pay any money to the dead man’s relatives. “No darling, they don’t pay ‘blood money’ in America.”
In the aftermath of the shooting, the shooter, Dane, is feted as a hero and the case is closed within 24 hours. The stupid mutt who broke in is buried with little ceremony at a cemetery on the edge of town. We learn that he was a wanted felon, so he got what he deserved.
Enter stage right the dead man’s father – also a felon – just released on bail who proceeds to make veiled threats against Dane’s young son. The police initially dismiss the threats as being without substance, but after the old man breaks into Dane’s house and leaves messages in the form of bullets in the young boy’s bed, the cops get serious. So far so good and the acting and the action will hold you to your seats.
In spite of police hiding in the woods and an ex-commando cop sitting inside the house, the old man, Ben, succeeds in outwitting them all, visits the son in his bedroom before making his escape. Good suspenseful stuff. I am still hooked.
A day later the sheriff calls Dane to advise that Ben was captured in Mexico and is on his way back to Texas for a long spell in jail. Case closed, everybody celebrates and we all breathe a sigh of relief. Just when you begin to wonder where the story can go from here; Daney boy is leaving the police station after signing a few forms, when he sees a wanted poster for the man he killed, still pinned to the police notice board. He takes it down and looks at the mug shot. The man he killed looks nothing like the mug shot on the photo. He tries to tell the sheriff but the cop doesn’t want to know – Dane is mistaken, he insists and refuses to discuss it.
Very intriguing, and you start to wonder what will happen next? You grab a quick cup of tea and return to your comfy seat, fully expecting the second half of the film to be as good as the first half.
When I tell you that I almost turned the movie off near the end, you can get an idea of how dire it was. Never have I seen a film that starts off in Oscar-worthy mode and descends into “razzle mode” so quickly.
Dane stakes out the cop shop and sees the sheriff and his cop cohorts smuggle Ben into a car late at night and leave him drugged and tied up, lying across a rail line out of town. Although the plot is already starting to signs of cracking, I still stay with it. Daney boy can’t make up his mind whether to rescue Ben or not. Hurry up! The train is coming… and just when you think it is too late, he snatches Ben away from a ghastly death. Corny, cliched to hell, but still just about worth watching to see what happens.
But it goes downhill very quickly from here. The long corny second half tale is so full of plot holes it would take an army of writers to fix them. Shy, nerdy Dane teams up with Ben. Together with a wild west mate who Ben calls in to help, they go in search of Ben’s son – after digging up the grave to convince Ben that it wasn’t his son who was killed by Dan. They discover that the cops are protecting Ben Jr in a witness protection programme, but there is no credible explanation as to why the cops wanted Ben dead. The attempted house burglary was staged by the cops to convince the local bad boys that Ben Jr was dead. So there were already two potential deaths instigated by cops to protect one very evil dude.
It gets worse. It turns out that witness-protected Ben Jr is busy making porn ‘snuff’ videos, with Jr personally killing the young Mexican girls they ’employ’ for each movie. “Let’s tell the cops”, says Dane. He is told the cops are fully aware of what Ben Jr is up to, and they don’t care.
So let’s get this straight, they kill some innocent punter back in Dan’s hometown by telling him to go robbing, they do their damnedest to kill Ben’s father for reasons that are not clear, and they have no issues with any number of underage Mexican girls being brutally murdered on camera by this man they are protecting.
There is much more in the way of coincidences and ridiculous plot lines, but I think you get the idea. As was to be expected, there is a mass shoot out at the end of the movie where timid Dane has been transformed into an avenging Rambo and the three of them go on a killing spree that would do justice to a Scorsese film.
Dane returns home to small-town America and back to his job, making picture frames, but we know that life will never be the same. What a load of old….
But what do I know?
Two and a half Mobi-Stars out of Five.