Dead Man's Hand
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 36m
Director: Brian Skiba
Writer(s): Kevin Minor (based on a novel by,) Matthew Minor (based on a novel by,) Corin Nemec, Brian Skiba
Cast: Stephen Dorff, Jack Kilmer, Cole Hauser, Delilah Andre, Randall Batinkoff
Where To Watch: available on Blu-ray/DVD September 14; pre-order here now www.amazon.com
RAVING REVIEW: This Western film treads a well-worn path we've journeyed down countless times before. Its formulaic nature makes it a resounding and unequivocal pass.
The story centers around Reno, a recently married gunslinger yearning for a tranquil existence alongside his bride. However, his quest for peace takes an unexpected turn when Reno is forced to defend himself, resulting in the demise of a notorious bandit. This incident plunges him and his spouse back into the treacherous world he had hoped to leave behind. Matters escalate when Clarence Bishop, the unscrupulous mayor of their small town, becomes determined to avenge his brother's death, setting the stage for a gripping and relentless showdown.
Amidst the vast expanse of this film's shortcomings, one can't help but be drawn to the lone beacon of redemption—Stephen Dorff's portrayal of Mayor Clarence Bishop. In a narrative landscape riddled with clichés and monotony, Dorff's character emerges as a breath of invigoratingly fresh air. With every nuanced expression and compelling delivery, he injects a much-needed vitality into the story, turning what might have been a lackluster performance into a memorable one.
Furthermore, if there's one facet of this film that manages to spark a glimmer of appreciation, it's undoubtedly the abundance of gunfights. The relentless cascade of bullets and the visceral intensity of these sequences breathe life into an otherwise lackluster narrative. In the midst of this explosive chaos, the film momentarily finds its pulse, offering a fleeting but exhilarating respite from its less commendable aspects. Despite its imperfections, the sheer volume and intensity of the gunfights serve as a testament to the filmmakers' dedication to providing an action-packed experience.
As I've been subtly alluding to, this film is a tapestry woven with a multitude of imperfections that one cannot help but notice. Foremost among these issues is the dialogue, which often oscillates between stilted and outright cringe-worthy. Characters struggle to convey genuine emotion, and their exchanges frequently fall flat, leaving the viewer yearning for more substance and authenticity.
Another glaring flaw that permeates the film is its reliance on practical effects, which, unfortunately, miss the mark by a considerable margin. Be it the clumsy reactions to gunshots, the palpably forced grunts, or the evident lack of attention to detail in the special effects department, these elements conspire to undermine the viewer's immersion in the story.
Moreover, the film's inconsistent color grading occasionally disrupts the narrative's visual continuity, detracting from the overall cinematic experience. Moments of jarring transitions between color palettes can unintentionally pull the viewer out of the film's world, disrupting the suspension of disbelief.
Overall, this Western feels like a well-trodden path, a genre that has seen countless iterations, leaving little room for novelty or innovation. Regrettably, it struggles to muster any substantial redeeming qualities that might elevate it above the well-worn clichés of its genre.
[photo courtesy of LIONSGATE]
As an advocate for creators, actors, and writers, I firmly stand with SAG-AFTRA and the WGA in their current strike. The entertainment industry is built on these individuals' extraordinary talents, and their contributions must be appropriately recognized and rewarded. They deserve fair compensation, sensible work hours, and respect for their creative rights. I believe in the power of unity and collective action, and I'm steadfast in my support for their fight for better working conditions and fair remuneration. Together, we can shape a more equitable future in the entertainment world.
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