Ron Howard’s The Missing

I’m not sure why a gorgeous, thrilling horror/western/adventure like Ron Howard’s The Missing didn’t win over audiences as much as it should have upon release, but it’s one of my favourite in the genre, the best film overall from Howard (IMHO) who has always felt like an uneven, ‘play it safe’ Hollywood filmmaker to me and one of my go-to films to revisit. This films plays it anything but safe, blanketing a very personal, desperate set of protagonists and their struggles with a cloak of menace, mysticism and marauding danger around every corner of a threatening New Mexico brush-scape. Cate Blanchett gives one of her most raw, affecting turns as single rancher and single mother Magdalena Gillekson, a woman with a great deal of trauma in her past who is simply trying to live the isolated homesteader life and raise her two daughters (Jenna Boyd and Evan Rachel Wood) right, with the help of her friend, ranch-hand and sometimes lover Brake (Aaron Eckhart). Their lives are first upheaved with the reappearance of her ne’er do well father Samuel (Tommy Lee Jones), a halfbreed nomad who is disgraced most people in his past, and then with the arrival of a terrifying witch-doctor (Eric Schweig) who kidnaps her eldest daughter and makes off with his gang of Apache and white human traffickers towards the Mexican border to sell her and a whole bunch of other girls they’ve taken. So begins a journey of reconnaissance, rescue and reconciliation as Magdalena, Samuel and the younger daughter voyage across wintry plains of New Mexico into barren badlands to square off with this evil cabal of predatory psychopaths and return the stolen girls to their homes. These two characters that Blanchett and Jones play fascinate me; she’s cold, bitter and has clearly been robbed of some of her humanity in the past. He’s an outcast loner with a life story so dysfunctional that his Native name literally translates into English as ‘shit for luck.’ Their struggle to salvage any kind of father daughter relationship between them is almost as daunting as the brutal rescue mission they undertake, and the narrative pays just as much careful attention to character development and human interaction as it does to action and violence. Schweig is utterly despicable as the evil Apache shaman, a hateful, volatile, ugly as fuck rotten bastard monster who haunts the film like the very wind over the terrain itself with his unholy magic spells and sudden outbursts of shocking violence. The supporting cast is full of rich talent including Elizabeth Moss, Steve Reeves, Jay Tavare, Ray McKinnon, Max Perlich, Simon Baker, Clint Howard and a surprise cameo from Val Kilmer. As good as everyone is overall, my favourite performance of the film goes to Jenna Boyd as the youngest daughter.. it’s hard enough to find child actors who will be able to to the minimal amount of believable emotion in a role like this, but she is uncannily talented and her potent terror, fierce resilience and undimmed love for her mother and sister woven into her work simply knocked me flat. The late James Horner composes a score that tops the list of prolific work from him for me, an ambient collection of classic yet somehow eerie western motifs that play along the sideline for the first two acts and then swell with orchestral release later when the finale rolls around. Cinematographer Salvatore Totino makes spooky use of the wide open vistas, craggy, labyrinthine geological structures and captures the rugged natural beauty of the region splendidly. I wish Howard would do more edgy, off the beaten path and thoroughly dark pieces of work like this because for my money he’s never been better. Perhaps that’s why this wasn’t received so well though, it’s a harrowing far cry from what we’re used to seeing in Hollywood westerns, full of black magic, dark deeds, horrifying imagery and bloody, unforgiving violence. It has a soul too though, present in the bittersweet relationship between its main characters and the ruthless resolve they fuel in each other to seek retribution against the forces of darkness at their door. This is a great film and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, I think it was just either misunderstood, ahead of its time or people simply couldn’t reconcile the heavier aspects. I’ve recently acquired the only existing Blu Ray put out by Shout Factory which is an absolutely gorgeous release that includes an extended version with twenty minutes more footage that enriches and deepens this story wonderfully. One of the best films of the last two decades.

-Nate Hill

Fred Dekker’s The Monster Squad

80’s Amblin nostalgia fuses together with classic Hammer horror characters in The Monster Squad, a film I never even knew existed until it was brought to my attention by twitter peeps the other day, but after one viewing I’m immediately in love. This exists in the same cherished vein of stuff like The Goonies, Flight Of The Navigator, Gremlins etc and the aesthetic is always irresistible no matter what, then throw in this classic horror flavour too and you’re pretty much guaranteed to win me over. Monsters are loose in small town Americana, and that’s pretty much all you need to known plot-wise in a review. A band of local kids who call themselves The Monster Squad because they’ve always been prepping to fight imaginary beasties finds themselves hurled into a very real fight against a very real posse of them lead by Dracula himself (Duncan Regehr). There’s also a nervous Wolfman (Jon Gries), a mummy (Michael Reid Mackay) and a surprisingly benign Frankenstein’s monster played by the great Tom Noonan. It’s all very playful, loosely structured and down to earth, the child characters emblazoned with the kind of aggressively cute, profane yet ultimately sweet personalities that only the deepest of 80’s cuts in cinema could offer. The best part of the film for me was the warm-hearted, touching friendship between one of the squad’s baby sister (Ashley Bank) and Noonan’s monster who are both unbearably adorable. Blessedly prosthetic monster effects, a campy yet very smartly written tone and vivid, memorable characters make this an absolute treasure.

-Nate Hill

Disney/Pixar’s Soul

Trust Pixar to bravely and almost effortlessly tackle a subject as delicate and demanding as the human soul. They already kinda did in 2015’s Inside Out (the movie where feelings have feelings), which acts as a nice companion piece to Soul, a brilliant metaphysical stunner in every sense of the word and one of the most ambitious, rewarding films of the year. Jamie Foxx stars against type as Joe, a middle aged high school band teacher who always hoped to make it big as a jazz musician. When he finally nails a gig with a hotshot artist (Angela Bassett), he has an accident and goes into a coma before he can make the venue, hurling his soul into the great beyond where he furiously fights to make it back earth-side, but it’s more complicated than all that. He finds himself chained in mentorship to a dysfunctional soul (Tina Fey) who could never get the entry process right and hasn’t lived a single incarnation on earth. Together they traverse the gorgeously surreal lands beyond our earthly realm and eventually earth itself in a search for Joe’s body, a reason for Fey’s wayward soul to transition into earthly life and the very meaning of existence itself. Much like Inside Out, this takes on deep themes in a disarmingly lighthearted manner while still managing to be emotionally affecting enough that it doesn’t feel sappy or inconsequential. Joe literally learns that life isn’t about finding meaning or purpose, but that the meaning and purpose are there in the simple fact that there *is* life. The visuals are incredibly trippy and abstract in the realms beyond earth and beautifully photorealistic in a stunningly rendered New York City brought to life in painstaking autumnal detail. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross compose a reliably ambient and almost dark hued score that is something we haven’t ever heard in a Disney film and aside from Foxx and Fey’s solid lead voice work, listen for others including Richard Ayoade, Graham Norton, Rachel House, Alice Braga, Questlove, Wes Studi, June Squibb and more. Pixar has gotten staggeringly mature and creative in ways I never thought possible since Inside Out and now Soul, this is a complex, wonderful, visually stimulating, wittily written, philosophically engaging piece of art and one of the best films you’ll see this year.

-Nate Hill

Actor’s Spotlight: Nate interviews Louis Herthum

I’m pleased to bring you my first interview in some time, with the incredibly talented Louis Herthum! Louis is a dedicated actor who has recently gained worldwide acclaim for his galvanizing, scene stealing portrayal of Peter Abernathy on HBO’s Westworld, and he has an epic career that includes appearances in films like City Of Lies opposite Johnny Depp, The Possession Of Hannah Grace, Truth, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and more. He also has many memorable television roles including Longmire, What/If, Breaking Bad, True Detective, True Blood, Revenge, Sleepy Hollow, Narcos and more. Enjoy and thanks for reading!

Nate: What is your background, and how did you find your way into acting/the industry? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do or did you fall into it unexpectedly?

Louis: I wanted to be a stuntman since the age of 12 when my father took me to see the Steve McQueen film, BULLITT. It was the chase scene in that film that was the inspiration. I was somewhat of a stunt-kid, always doing things that would see me getting a few stitches (or worse) at the doctors office but stunt driving was what I wanted to do the most. I made no bones about it all through the rest of elementary school, high school and the little bit of college (LSU) that I attended. In the mid 70’s I was working for a men’s fine clothing store and they asked me to model for their adds. I did, which led to more modeling jobs with an agency, which led to some on camera commercial gigs, which led finally to working on stage. Once I got on stage, my fate was sealed. I played the lead role of “Starbuck” in the N. Richard Nash play, THE RAIN MAKER. I won an award for the performance and that was it. I stayed in my home town Baton Rouge, did a couple more plays, playing “Will Parker” in OKLAHOMA and “Kenickie” in GREASE, then in January of 1982 I move to L.A.

Nate: Who were some of your influences growing up, favourite actors you’d watch in film and admire?

Louis: I never really had a favorite actor because I was never really that interested in acting. But of course, McQueen was an influence but I didn’t even realize it since it wasn’t his acting that inspired me. But I will have to say that believe it or not, John Travolta’s meteoric rise to fame did make an impression on me. Mainly in Saturday Night Fever. It may be strange to say it this way but I just felt like I could do what he was doing. I think that was very possibly Travolta’s best role ever by the way. And then Grease came along and I felt like… Hey, I can do that! So his rise to fame is what I was more inspired by, not to take anything away from his talent and abilities of course.

Nate: Westworld: such a brilliant performance in one of the best shows out there. Were you approached for the role or did you audition? How was your process in bringing that intense scene to life, basically staring down both Jeffrey Wright and Anthony Hopkins and giving a tour de force in under five minutes. How did you prepare to play Peter?

Louis: Well, first of all thank you for that comment. I had to audition for the role, if was not offered to me. I went in for the initial audition with the assistant casing director and was asked to return to read for the producers. I had several days between the two and I was told to come in and that the door was wide open (what door? ha!) to go as far as I wanted to with the physicality of the character. The scene that I read in the audition was the one you are referring to with Tony and Jeffrey however it was three different characters and different dialogue of course. It was simply a scene they wrote for the audition and every male actor who was playing a robot had to do it. Then you also read for the part you were called in to read for. For me it was the Sheriff. I did pretty much what you see in the show in the audition. Lisa Joy was the only producer in the room and she liked what I did and made comments that let me know that. Then she asked if there was anything else I would like to show them. I answered, “No thanks. I think I will quit while I’m ahead.” They laughed, I left the room and in about 5 or 6 weeks I got the word that I had booked “Peter Abernathy” and of course, I had no idea who that was because I had not read that part. Then my manager said to me, you know that part you read for the audition, that is Peter Abernathy. It was then that I realized I would be doing the scene with Mr. Hopkins because every the audition script named him as Dr. Ford and I had read that he was playing that role. As far as how I prepared for the scene; as I say I did pretty much what you see in the audition so I already had the blueprint if you will for the scene. I did rehearse with Lisa and Jonah one day, running through the entire scene, full tilt, twice. They liked what I was doing and in fact, three days before we filmed the scene, which was five pages long, they added three more pages to it. Most of that was not in the final cut but I think they simply wanted to give me a chance to do more with the character and see what happened. I think it was the better more than not enough scenario. But I think it was edited beautifully.

Nate: True Detective: a very memorable scene and your performance adds to the overall vibe of haunting unease in that area. How did you get involved and what was your experience shooting that scene with Matthew McConaughey? You yourself are from Louisiana and your involvement has an authentic feel. Are you a fan of the show overall?

Louis: I auditioned for that role as well. But I have to say, I went in to that audition daring them not to cast me. I knew that one was mine. I knew I could bring a more authentic Louisiana character to life, especially using a Cajun accent for the character. As for shooting the scene, it was pretty fast really. When I got to the set, Matthew and the director Cary where sitting on the porch of that house. Matthew introduced himself, then Cary and we shot the scene with me holding the shot gun, which was longer than in the final cut. Then we went inside and banged that one out. I didn’t take long at all and it went very smoothly. And I was a huge fan of Season one. Not so much two, and still have yet to watch S3.

Nate: Longmire: very memorable character you got to play here, what was the experience working on this show?

Louis: Omar was a great, fun character to play. Great cast, lots of fun to work with. And shooting in Santa Fe, NM was great. Great locations and lovely place to be for work. As for the role of Omar, I only wish there had been more of him. That role was supposed to be a “strong recurring” character in the series. Omar is very prominent in the books and was so in season’s 1 & 2 but after that, he was hardly seen at all. I found that odd but I guess someone thought that they only needed one “jack of all trades” and found other places for the comic relief, which I felt Omar provided.

Nate: City Of Lies: this film seems to have slipped through the cracks and never got a proper release, how was your experience on it? I was very excited to see it as it has you alongside many other actors I also admire (Peter Greene, Xander Berkeley, Toby Huss etc)

Louis: Oh man. First of all, the film is locked in some kind of legal issue. That is why it has fallen through the cracks. I don’t know if it will ever be seen by the public in the States. But working with Johnny Depp was absolutely delightful. He’s a very sweet, kind person and I think gets a bad wrap. And very funny. He was a pleasure to work with, as was Shea Whigham. And while I didn’t work directly with him, it was nice to see and old friend and magnificent actor, Dayton Callie on set. I had a wonderful closing argument scene as the City Attorney but the director told me he hated to, but that he had to cut it. That was devastating because while filming, jokingly, Johnny asked me, “can you do it worse?” He and Shea said they thought it would make the trailer to the film. I knew it never would but that was nice of them to say. Anyway, I was so hoping to get that piece of footage but alas, I may never see it. Nor anyone else for that matter.

Nate: Of the roles you have played so far in your career, which are some of your favourites?

Louis: Certainly Peter Abernathy is at the top of the list. A close second has to be “Foster” in WHAT/IF with Renee Zellweger. Not only because Renee and the entire producer team were such a wonderful group of people to know and work with, but the role itself was one that I had never been given the opportunity to play. And I thank Mike Kelly (creator) for believing in me enough to give me a character no one had ever seen me play. Stoic, strong, loyal, brave and a forceful character. And like I say, not to hard to come to work when you are playing opposite Ms. Zellweger. She is a delight. Omar was great but too little, and another favorite character was “Ness” in a little indie film I produced in 2004 called RED RIDGE. He was a despicable character but sometimes they are the most fun. You get to do things you would never do in real life. Very few people have seen that film, but with all the streaming services, maybe they will one day.

Nate: How is your life aside from the job, what else do you like to do in terms of hobbies, interests etc?

Louis: I have a great life. I cannot complain. I love art and antiques and have a great collection of both. Love to search for treasures at estate sales and swap meets. I have two classic cars, a 1968 Mustang Fastback which is my homage to “Bullitt” and a 1971 Corvette Stingray. I love to camp, hike, ride my bike, walk on the beach, boxing workout, which I have been doing since long before it was the cool thing to do (1978 to be exact) and of course visiting and hanging with friends, though I have not been able to do enough of that of late but I look forward to getting back to it once the apocalypse subsides, haha!

Nate: Do you have any upcoming projects (film related or otherwise) that you are excited for and would like to mention?

Louis: I recently appeared in an episode of FBI: MOST WANTED and the second season of DIRTY JOHN but that was before he shutdown and they have already aired. But since production has come back, I have started a recurring role on the CBS show, ALL RISE and should be doing more of those in 2021. I have just completed my part in the Apple TV show, HOME BEFORE DARK season 2 (was in season 1 as well). But with the shut down, work was non existent for many months, lets hope things can continue to get better from here. Fingers crossed!!

Nate: Thank you so much for you time Louis, it means a whole lot to myself, our team and all our readers that you took this time to share with us. Cheers to you and your family and best of luck in the future!!

Thomas Vinterburg’s Another Round

Alcohol and the culture, customs and traditions surrounding it have permeated society to a saturation point over the years (cinema included), whether we want to admit it or not. I myself am a bit of a self proclaimed lush, and as such I always gravitate towards films that tackle the issue head on, whether the context be cautionary, celebratory, purely unbiased anthropological study or other. Beerfest, Leaving Las Vegas, Flight, Barfly, 28 Days, A Star Is Born. They’re as varied and illuminating as in any sub-genre stable and now we have Thomas Vinterburg’s Another Round, one of the best films of the year and one that manages to do a carefully calibrated dance between comedy and tragedy while showing us the shortcomings, shattered dreams and collective woes of four high school teachers from Denmark, with the focus resting primarily on Mads Mikkelsen’s Martin, an introverted, emotionally stunted man who was perhaps not always this way, but the years have made it so. He and his three buddies decide during a booze soaked night out to follow in the footsteps of an unconventional philosopher who says that any human being will fare better in life with an average of 0.5 blood alcohol level… 24/7. This little experiment proves invigorating at first when each of them finds themselves a little looser, a little more effervescent in both their work and personal lives… until such an endeavour inevitably careens towards a downward spiral, for each in gravely different ways. The thing is, alcohol is a bandaid, not a magic curative elixir for all problems psychological and interpersonal. One can use at first, even at as benign a level as this experiment suggests, but the incremental nature of how it affects our bodies soon takes control and self destruction can be imminent. We see Mikkelsen’s already inert marriage detonate like a dying star, his younger colleague can’t act appropriately around his wife and young children anymore and their older friend seems to suffer from some kind of repressed pain that he and the film are too scared to even unpack, it’s so bad. I don’t want anyone to label this as a ‘midlife crisis’ film because that’s a cheap and patronizing term; anyone at any point in their life can not be okay and their struggles shouldn’t be relegated to labels like that. These are simply four human beings who naively experiment with alcohol and realize that not only will excessive use *not* fix their problems, it will emblazon them further into the forefront of their psyches and force out a fierce reckoning from each, whether they’re ready for it or not. Some are, some aren’t, and that’s the beauty of this narrative. Mikkelsen has never been better, he’s got that observant subtlety we’ve come to know him for but there’s also a vivacity and deepest emotional burn to the work that is a new and mesmerizing formula from him as an artist. Also he’s rocks some dance moves I never expected him to have in a joyous, blessedly cathartic ‘jazz ballet’ sequence near the end that nails the film’s desire to be thoroughly bittersweet but ultimately uplifting. Like the best cocktails, the mixture has to be in utmost equilibrium or the flavour is off. The same can be said for a film that wants to bridge genres or simply evoke multiple complex emotions at once: Another Round is jubilant, compassionate, loving yet doesn’t shy away from the dark, bleak and dysfunctional corners of life, using alcohol as a narrative avatar to unearth what was already there in its human characters. Masterful film.

-Nate Hill

Marvin Kren’s Blood Glacier

Now this is how you do a monster movie. Blood Glacier is a terrific Euro-Schlock horror about scientists at a remote research station in the snowy Austrian Alps who discover a spectacularly troublesome micro-organism that arrives in the glacial thaw and stirs up all kinds of cryptozoological shit. The thawing out of creatures from ice, research station and gooey prosthetic effects will draw obvious comparisons to John Carpenter’s The Thing which are of course fair, but the biological modus operandi of the organism differs from that of The Thing and this film finds its own suitable groove. Here’s the hook: this life-force invades the cells of multiple creatures at once, stores the genetic data and creates multifaceted hybrid creatures, so you get a big ass fox/beetle cross, a strange goat/human fucker and wood-bug lice things the size of basketballs that attach themselves to humans like face-huggers and devour their heads. The special effects are obviously limited somewhat by budget but are still incredibly creative, blessedly free of CGI and elaborately slimy enough to be aesthetically pleasing. The human actors/characters are an interesting bunch, as the research scientists join forces with a German family unlucky enough to be hiking in the area and go postal on these pseudo-Lovecraft aberrations which Mother Nature has hurled forth at them. A word of caution though: if you have trouble watching animals in pain, getting hurt or killed onscreen you may want to think twice. The research camp has a dog (similar situation to The Thing) that passes away in the kind of heart wrenching, hyper-emotional sequence I haven’t seen the likes of since Will Smith sang his pupper to permanent sleep in I Am Legend, it’s a tough scene for animal lovers to fight through. This is an impressive effort though with a very cool premise, extremely creative monster effects and a cool wintry atmosphere to boot. God times.

-Nate Hill

B Movie Glory: Hypothermia

An ice fishing trip goes horribly wrong for Michael Rooker and his family in Hypothermia, an impossibly cheap winter Schlocker that I probably wouldn’t have bothered with had it not had Rooker in it, but here we are. It’s not that this film is bad on ‘low budget B-horror flick’ terms, it’s just that it commits one cardinal sin that can assuredly either make or break a creature feature: it’s monster is unforgivably lame. Rooker and his cutesy pie middle class family are on their annual ice fishing family holiday when they realize that some sort of giant fish man thing is stalking them from under the ice, and are forced to band together with another rowdy father son duo to survive, and kill this walking filet if they can. Rooker is clearly the only professionally trained actor here and is very good, but he always puts in 110% no matter the material, one of the reasons I’m such a fan of the guy. The rest of the cast.. not so much. This is the kinda thing that plays on SyFy channel at 2am for us night owl schlock aficionados to drowsily absorb, and it would be a perfect example of that done successfully… if it weren’t for this godawful, clunky and outright embarrassing monster they’ve made. Having a low budget is no excuse either; you can make a pretty convincing ‘fish man monster’ with little to no funds using elbow grease, prosthetics and ingenuity. Check out Blumhouse’s Sweetheart from this year for proof of that, which has a terrific fish-man monster and couldn’t have had much higher budget than this. I’ve included a picture of this thing and don’t bawk about spoilers because it’s just not even impressive enough to spoil, it looks like the Lego version of Swamp Thing or some shit. This could have been a decent monster flick if they’d, you know, bothered with the actual monster, but they didn’t and as a result the whole thing kinda buckles and capsizes in the ice like multiple characters do in the film. Lame.

-Nate Hill

The Lodge

Here’s a hypothetical for you: let’s say you’re a middle aged male widower mourning the loss of your severely mentally ill wife who shot herself mere months ago, in front of your two young children no less. You’re grieving, your kids are all kinds of fucked up, and you’ve decided to date again. Your new young girlfriend has recently been rescued from a whacked out, abusive doomsday cult and is adjusting to normal life again with utmost fragility. You take a vacation to a secluded ski lodge in the winter, thinking it will be nice for your equally traumatized children and girlfriend to get some bonding time in. Now… in this scenario, all things considered, how would it be responsible, intuitively practical or remotely advisable in any way whatsoever to take off and leave your kids alone with this girl for an extended period of time? The Lodge is based around this premise and while it’s very well acted, shot and quite atmospheric, the entire film didn’t work for me because I just couldn’t bring myself to take stock in such a ludicrous narrative gambit such as this. Richard Armitage is solidly haunted as the father, Riley Keogh an unsettling porcelain waif as the disturbed new girlfriend, Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh capable as the two kids. Alicia Silverstone (of all people) gives the best performance of the film in her quick turn as the ailing mother, I didn’t think I’d ever give high dramatic praise to the Clueless girl but here we are, she owns her cameo with disconcerting resolve. This film’s issues aren’t with acting, cinematography or even music, which are all exemplary. It’s the script that doesn’t ring true, and offsets the entire thing. Besides the dad leaving them alone together (facepalm), the kids pull some weird shit on the girlfriend that spurs the horrific final act into motion. I mean I know these kids aren’t in their right minds, they’re grappling with life and death at a young age etc etc, but they *still* should have intuitively known better, on a deep level, than to pull the kind of cruel, damaging stunt they do here. I think every beat in the story after the mom’s suicide just felt false, discernibly orchestrated and hollow to me, and the film majorly loses its way before it even has a chance to get going past the prologue. Misfire overall.

-Nate Hill

3 for 3: John Carpenter

We’re pleased to bring you our next installment of 3 for 3, this time discussing the works of John Carpenter. Carpenter is one of our favorite filmmakers who is responsible for many classics ranging from HALLOWEEN, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, to STARMAN. Please stay tuned for our next 3 for 3 regarding our favorite character actors, as well as a 3 for 3 – For Your Ears Only crossover where we pay tribute to Sean Connery, and talk about his diverse contribution to film beyond James Bond.

B Movie Glory: 4Got10 aka The Good, The Bad & The Dead

In always game to give a B movie a day in court but it’s gotta at least put in a game effort and ‘4GOT10’ (whatever the fuck that means) is just the film equivalent of an hopelessly flaccid penis. It’s also called “The Good, The Bad & The Dead” on some posters which is marginally more coherent and is a good indicator of how dumb and dead on arrival this thing is. It’s sad because it has a great cast, who for the most part are stuck moping, drawling, clawing their way through terminally bloated scenes with nary an editor in sight and spewing scant, anemic dialogue. Johnny Messner is a terrific actor who seems to be permanently stranded in this kind of fare of late, which isn’t always the worst thing (paycheque is a paycheque) but not even his engaging presence can do anything for this hastily cut turd. He plays some sort of ex convict who awakens in the desert with amnesia, surrounded by dead guys, guns and cash. Some kind of deal clearly went south and it gets worse with the arrival of a corrupt scumbag sheriff (Michael Paré) who tries to finish Messner off and steal all the leftover cash. Also eventually on scene is a bored looking Dolph Lundgren as a rogue DEA enforcer, Vivica A. Fox as his blathering station chief, Danny Trejo as the angry cartel boss who I guess was trying to facilitate the deal and all kinds of other forgettable cutouts. This film makes the grave and silly mistake of introducing each character with a freeze frame title card like ‘the outlaw’, ‘the enforcer’, ‘the sheriff’, ‘the braud’ (I’m not even kidding on that one) etc and I don’t know about you but I fucking hate that obnoxious stylistic contrivance, it was never cool and certainly still isn’t now. I realize that these actors have families to feed, mortgages to pay off and whatnot but like… could they have at least aimed a *bit* higher than something as wantonly awful and as this? Like… I’ve participated in entry level student film productions that were literally better than this, this crew should all just quit their profession and work at McDonald’s if that’s the way they’re going to behave. It’s tragic and embarrassing, and this is from someone who loves watching an endless string of B grade trash just to see actors I like. It doesn’t even make that cut, and you should avoid it lest risk slipping into a diabetic fugue state at the sheer cinematic malnourishment this fucker exudes.

-Nate Hill