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Director: Sarik Andreasyan

Starring: Hayden Christensen, Adrien Brody, Jordana Brewster, Tory Kittles, Akon

The movie deals with the plight of two brothers, one who has served time and is getting his life back on track, and the other who has served big time and really has no other way. An intriguing prospect, if an over utilized concept, which at times serves the movie well. For me, the best scenes were those of Christensen and Brody together – whether fighting, soul searching or disagreeing. They had just enough of a connection to make those scenes work.

Christensen, for a surprise to many, is the standout actor in the movie. His performance is weaved with anger, fear, sadness, determination and above all, love for his brother. I wasn’t expecting a huge amount from him; however he put me in my place and gave a very good performance. For the majority of his scenes he was the focus of them, due to delivering a superior act. It was a credible performance from an oft-criticised actor – even if he does use the word “bro” way too much.

Brody, on the other hand, was a bit puzzling for me. Initially, his swaggering and posturing felt too forced and quite awkward. As the films rolls on, and the bravado starts to fade away, the performance becomes more focused. Unfortunately, as the character is not developed well enough, many of his emotive scenes don’t hit the mark, but it’s clear he is attempting to create a great character for himself.

Brewster also suffers from poor development, and initially I struggled to work out if she was a good friend, girlfriend, ex-girlfriend of Jimmy’s or even an old flame of Frankie’s. It wasn’t a bad performance, just pretty forgettable. The same can also be said for Kittles and Akon, portraying the stereotypical gangsters with a grudge. Again, these guys show up and suddenly run the show, delivering passable performances during the film and only beginning to shine in the last act of the movie, where they are allowed to demonstrate their cold blooded nature.

As for the heist (still working out why it was an American heist, and not just…you know, a heist) the depiction of this is handled well, and gives the pay off the film needed. It is edited well, and paced nicely to give the impression of real time action, and finally allows for some suspense. The plan for the heist borders on implausible (especially the bus) and the reason for it? A very unsubtle preach that couldn’t feel anymore disconnected from the instigators – forget the morality, they want the money.

The action scenes are handled well, and provide the grit that the movie promises, whilst the scenes between the two leading men work for the most part. Unfortunately, the movie suffers from under developed characters, a lack of originality and an unnecessary social commentary. Half good, half bad.

August 17th 2016

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