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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

TRADED -- Movie Review by Porfle

One of the recent spate of big screen horse operas, TRADED (2016) isn't a sweeping spectacle, nor does it try to be.  But it is a solid and in many ways traditional Western that fans of the genre should find reassuringly old school.

Having just lost his young son to a deadly snake bite, humble rancher Clay Travis (Michael Paré, STREETS OF FIRE, THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT) and his profoundly distraught wife Amelia (Constance Brenneman) suffer further emotional pain when their rebellious teenage daughter Lily (Brittany Elizabeth Williams) runs off to Wichita in hopes of being a Harvey Girl but instead is kidnapped into prostitution. (Shades of TAKEN.)

Paré, who has aged well and fits the role of concerned frontier dad to a tee, plays Clay Travis as a regular guy--albeit rather stoic--instead of trying to come off as super-cool, which I find refreshing.  He isn't superhuman either, so we're impressed by his displays of shooting and fighting skill, holdovers from his past life, as well as his overall tenacity.

We discover more interesting things here and there about this less domesticated past life, including his acquaintance with a former whore named Nell (Natalia Cigliuti), now a madam of her own Dodge City brothel.  A chance run-in with a former enemy results in one of those classic fast-draw showdowns in the street that make Westerns so much fun to watch. 

Naturally he'll be forced to use all his old skills on the trail of his elusive daughter as she passes through various hands until finally ending up in the clutches of the monstrous saloon-owner-slash-pimp Lavoie (Tom Sizemore).

The procession of bad guys Clay encounters keeps getting worse and worse, with Sizemore's Lavoie being the most coldblooded bastard of them all.  (Which he play with much relish.)

Runner-up in the bad guy stakes is country crooner Trace Adkins (AN AMERICAN CAROL, A COUNTRY CHRISTMAS) as Ty Stover, every bit the badass and the subject of one of TRADED's more satisfying comeuppances.

Helping Clay along the way is philosophical bartender Billy, played by legendary singer-actor Kris Kristofferson (PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID) who also seems to be fitting comfortably into his silver years as an actor.

Old fave Martin Kove (BARE KNUCKLES, CROOKED, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT) gets to play what may be his grungiest character yet, the vile, incestuous stepfather to a frightful-looking young girl (Marie Oldenbourg) named "Girl" ("They say I'm too ugly to have a name") in whose clutches Clay ends up after a bad experience on the train to Dodge City.  A set-to between these three midway through the film is short but sweet and had me cheering.

One of the film's best features is its look--attractively photographed with realistic set design and costumes, TRADED has the authentic, sun-burnished look of one of those great made-for-TNT Westerns such as CONAGHER or CROSSFIRE TRAIL. (In my opinion, Ted Turner's cable channel TNT made some of the finest traditional Westerns of the last thirty or forty years.)

Direction by Timothy Woodward Jr. (SWAT: UNIT 887, THROWDOWN) gets the job done without being too fancy.

Clay Travis' odyssey is punctuated by moments of violence which at times are surprisingly, even shockingly hard-edged, although aside from that and some pretty rough language and sexual situations, TRADED is an old-fashioned Western at heart.  Which, for me, is one of its best qualities, because I love old-fashioned Westerns.

Opening Theatrically June 10 in Top Markets Including New York,
Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas, the Western Thriller
from Cinedigm and Status Media Will Also Be Available
Day-and-Date On Demand & Digital HD


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