By Rich Cline
This may be a gimmicky exploration of gun violence, which sometimes feels like a preachy public service advisory, but its story unfolds with raw power. The film’s first half is told in real-time, and generates some genuine suspense as it finds complexities in two sides of a gunshot: the victim and the young man who accidentally pulled the trigger. This gives the film a powerful sense of urgency as it moves into an even more pungent second act.
Set in Los Angeles, the film centres on Mark (Noah Wyle), a movie sound mixer whose therapist wife Phoebe (Sharon Leal) is divorcing him. As they meet to discuss the details, Mark is hit by a random gunshot and Phoebe accompanies him to hospital, where doctors try to save his life. Meanwhile, the shooter is revealed to be the sensitive 17-year-old Miguel (Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), who after being badly bullied got the gun from his cousin and fired it unintentionally. He’s now on the run, hiding from the cops and panicking about what to do with the gun. Then several months later, he decides that he can no longer live with his guilt, and sets out to try and make things right.
Director Jeremy Kagan tells the first part of this story using split screen to show both Mark and Miguel in their simultaneous fights to survive. This creates a strong sense of suspense, as well as an intriguing connection between these two men. Mark is conscious through his emergency room ordeal, so understands the ramifications of his injuries. Miguel is smart enough to realise that his hopes for the future could be derailed by this stupid mistake. And both actors dig deep into their characters, revealing inner thoughts and feelings that come surging to the surface in the film’s second half. Alongside them Leal’s character is just as affected by this errant bullet, and also has to cope with how her life is thrown off-course.
Along the way, the script takes a few rather obvious jabs at the topical issue of gun control, which seems a bit unnecessary in a story about the fallout from a random gunshot. And the preachiness extends to other topics like the importance of education and the cruelty of casual bigotry. But there are much more engaging things going on in the drama itself, from Mark and Phoebe’s marital issues between to Miguel’s feeling of desperate isolation. So as the story begins to touch on ideas of guilt, courage and understanding, it becomes darkly moving.
Facts and Figures
Production compaines: Bold Films, Participant Media, Relativity Media, Directv
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Cast & Crew
Director: Jeremy Kagan
Producer: Jeremy Kagan, Dave O’Brien, Josh Siegel
Screenwriter: Will Lambom, Anneke Campbell
Starring: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jacob / Money, Jon Bernthal as Frank ‘Shotgun’, Lake Bell as Kate, Omari Hardwick as Kutcher, Michael Landes as Steve, Jeffrey Donovan as Bottles, Benjamin Bratt as Sanchez, Emory Cohen as Howie, Jessy Schram as Jennifer, Matt Gerald as Phil Cole, Evan Jones as Chopper, Holt McCallany as The Beast, Juan Pablo Raba as Herman Gomez, Chris Browning as Redwood / Toby Simms, Sarah Minnich as Janie, Keith Jardine as Ripper, Monique Candelaria as Herman’s Wife / Lola, Max Greenfield as Tom, Brendan Kelly as Large Biker, John Trejo as SHU Guard, Dylan Kenin as Trustee, Danny Winn as Doyle (SWAT), Matthew Page as SHU Guard, Mark Sivertsen as LT. Roberts, Brandon K. Hampton as Young Black Inmate, Jonathon McClendon as Joshua, Chris Adams as Inmate, Esodie Geiger as Judge, David House as Capt. Freeman, Michael Sheets as Lead Officer, Mike Ostroski as Banker-Type, Nathaniel Augustson as Chef, J. Nathan Simmons as Prison Inmate, Howard Ferguson Jr. as Basketball Opponent, Joshua R. Aragon as Inmate, Jacob Browne as AD Seg Guard, Cru Ennis as Jason Horvath, Jetto Dorsainville as Bailiff, Marika Day as Punk-Rocker Girl, David Miller as Prisoner, Diana Gaitirira as R&R Guard, Joseph P. Santillanes as Back-Up Police Officer, Derek Dinniene as Young Joshua, Bobby Lee Osborn as Lenny, Ivan Brutsche as SHU Guard, Cajardo Lindsey as Chino Guard, Diego Joaquin Lopez as Cellmate Lopez, Rodger Larance as Pedestrian, Jose B. Martinez as Prisoner, Alexander Daniel Pimentel as Executive Basketball Player, Michael Benjamin Kirby as Prison Inmate, Euphrates ‘Tee’ Arthur as Prison Inmate, Dash Hamblin as Store Manager, Fred Padilla as Inmate, Jonathan Lane as Basketball Opponent, Johnathan Paul Pena as Featured Prisoner, J.D. Herrera as Prosecuting Attorney