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Saturday, March 26, 2011

MESKADA -- DVD review by porfle

When two bumbling burglars break into a home and end up killing a little boy, the impromptu murder sparks an investigation which has unexpected consequences in MESKADA (2010).

Nick Stahl (TERMINATOR 3, "Carnivale") is Noah Cordin, the smalltown detective on the case, with Rachel Nichols (the green-skinned "Gaila" from STAR TREK) as Leslie Spencer, a county deputy assigned to assist him.  Although Leslie reminds me of certain soap opera characters who are prematurely promoted to detective seemingly on the strength of their youth and sex appeal, she proves that she can handle the job during a couple of tense altercations.

A clue leads to Nick's nearby hometown of Caswell, where out-of-work locals are fighting for the approval of a new factory that will supply them with hundreds of jobs.  When Nick's investigation proves a detriment to the town's future, he and his family face the ire of a desperate citizenry on the verge of violence.

The story is about as low-key and unsensational as it gets, starting out as a leisurely police procedural and ambling into more complicated matters as Noah and Leslie poke their way into sensitive areas that put the townspeople on the defensive.  Stahl gives a reserved performance that's a far cry from his "Yellow Bastard" in SIN CITY, with Laura Benanti as the murdered boy's mother doing most of the heavy emoting.

TWILIGHT's Kellan Lutz is the simple-minded Eddie, who neither comprehends the enormity of his crime nor has the brains to keep a low profile.  Jonathan Tucker (THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE) plays his partner Shane, whose motive for the robbery is to help pay for his nephew's much-needed operation.

Tucker is an actor I've always liked and is very good here, giving his character a sympathetic element that enriches the story.  I also like Norman Reedus ("Scud" of BLADE II) who plays Shane's hotheaded brother-in-law Dennis, an early suspect in the murder.  Shane clashes with both Dennis and the irresponsible Eddie as he attempts to evade the inevitable consequences of his guilt.

Writer-director Josh Sternfeld's script burns with a slow fuse that touches off occasional flashes of gripping drama.  Noah's deteriorating relationships with various childhood friends lead to some tense situations, and his tough interrogation of Eddie's girlfriend Nat (Meryl Streep's daughter, Grace Gummer) after she's caught fencing stolen goods is one of the film's livelier moments. 

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and subtitles in English and Spanish.  A trailer is the sole extra.

Although in dramatic terms MESKADA comes to a fairly satisfying conclusion, there's a melancholy lack of resolution to the story that's both realistic and frustrating.  Neither an action-packed crime drama nor a by-the-numbers detective tale, it draws the viewer in by being quietly unpredictable. 

Buy it at

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