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Sunday, February 19, 2017

CUT TO THE CHASE -- Movie Review by Porfle

Triple-threat filmmaker Blayne Weaver wrote, directed, and starred in the steamy Louisiana-based crime thriller CUT TO THE CHASE (2016), and it's a corker.  This is straight-up pulp fiction, with a sleek visual style and a winking sense of humor.

Max Chase (Weaver) is a two-bit career criminal with only one saving grace--his love for younger sister Isobel (Erin Cahill in an endearing performance), an assistant D.A. who's always putting herself on the line for him. 

But after Max runs up against crime kingpin The Man (Lance Henriksen) one time too many, Isobel disappears, and Max frantically turns both the city and his own life upside-down looking for her.

Max is a wiry little wiseacre with a quick wit, and he's likable enough even though we, like his sister, know that he's a hopeless case.  We like him even more when her disappearance brings out a selfless determination that drives him to go up against the baddest hired killers in town, suffering more beatings and various other abuse than Bruce Willis in the process.

But what starts out as a simple hunt for his sister takes Max down the rabbit hole into something deeper and much darker than he expected, and before long neither he nor we are sure of anything. 

The good part is that this isn't just an excuse to string together ninety-odd minutes of action and violence, because each encounter Chase has with the people in his life -- Travis, The Man's burly head enforcer (Patrick Day), Chase and Isobel's surly old man Cotton (Richard Folmer), etc. -- is a scintillating vignette cracking with snappy acting and dialogue.

Character development is good even among the lesser bad guys, who instead of being just faceless heavies are mostly people Travis has known and dealt with for years, for various reasons.  One is even an old schoolmate who asks if he's going to the next class reunion if he happens to survive the next few minutes. 

Henriksen is his cranky, acerbic self as The Man, while beautiful Lyndie Greenwood shines as Nola (good name for a Louisiana girl), a witness in his upcoming trial who ends up on the run with Max as he starts getting blamed for various violent deaths that start happening all over Shreveport.
As for Weaver, he's so in tune with his character that it carries over into how he directs the film itself.  The jittery editing and quirky visual style seem to spring straight from Chase's own fidgety disposition, so it's like we're really inside Chase's head.  Which is kind of a scary place to be.

CUT TO THE CHASE starts out kind of like a film noir without the noir, until Max's search for Isobel becomes more and more desperate.  It never quite loses its wry sense of humor or its desire to entertain us with lots of hard-hitting action and suspense, with a final scene that makes us glad we stuck with Max till the bitter end.

Opens theatrically in limited markets on February 28th and is available nationwide on VOD/Digital March 7th with a DVD release in August.



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