Carter, a troubled veteran, gets a chance at redemption by protecting a 12 year-old girl from an assassin after she witnesses a murder. Holding a shotgun with a single shell, he engages in physical and psychological warfare in a desperate fight for the girl’s life.
Genre : Thriller
Country : Canada
Thomas Jane : Carter
Laurence Fishburne : Sade
Ella Ballentine : Bird
Director : Adam Alleca
“Well, well, well.
That man knows his guns.
So do I.”
As I said in my review about the film “Weaponized” : “I have a weak spot for low-budget, straight to DVD, B-movies” and occasionally I discover “a piddling, unknown and unloved movie, which surpasses some blockbusters in terms of content and design”. “Standoff” is such a movie. An unpretentious film with a straight forward script. The makers don’t waste too much time and introduce practically immediately a deadly, accurate assassin (Laurence Fishburne), who turns a modest funeral into a bloody massacre without batting an eye. His appearance reminded me a little of “The Terminator“. But this time with a jet-black balaclava.
The only thing this professional, routinized killer didn’t take into account, is Bird (Ella Ballentine). A skinny, shy girl with a camera around her neck serving as protection against and a window at the unjust world, who unwittingly takes a snapshot of the face of the killer. What follows is a chase because the murderer wants to clean up this last witness at all cost. An isolated farmhouse owned by Carter (Thomas Jane), an ex-soldier full of self-pity and remorse trying to forget his grief using booze, is the endpoint. Remorse because of an unfortunate accident that happened to his son. As a result his wife also left him. Bird showing up there might probably be interpreted by Carter as an opportunity to show a sense of responsibility for once.
And before you know it, those two ex-military are in the grip of a standoff. Sade, the assassin with enough firepower, installs himself on the ground floor, while Carter and Bird entrench themselves upstairs, only armed with a “20-gauge shotgun” and only one shell. And so the psychological warfare between the two rivals can start with Bird at stake. There’s no lengthy intro or a detailed explanation. Even the multiple assassination at the beginning isn’t explained or elucidated. This is in fact of secondary importance. The story develops rapidly at the beginning. Within 10 minutes you are fully aware what situation both men are in. There’s the possibility that from there on it could become boring, monotonous and slow. However, the opposite is true.
Sade tries in a verbal manner (and also in other ways) to persuade Carter to turn in Bird, while Carter guards the staircase. The subsequent dialogues between these two are on the one hand provocative and offensive. But on the other hand they are also psychologically thought through. Fishburne is clearly in his element as the unscrupulous villain. It was a pleasure to see him again in a leading role (it’s at least more impressive than his roles in “The Signal” and “The Colony“). Jane surprised me and this shows that it wasn’t his fault that his acting in “Vice” was worthless, but indeed, that film was quite appalling. Not to say utter crap. Here Jane plays a perfectly balanced role as a tormented heap of misery, full of despair and weariness of life, who transforms into a responsible savior. And finally an honorable mention for Ella Ballentine who did great.
Even though this “home invasion” film wasn’t very original and the storyline was quite simple, it still managed to captivate me. And even though the end was kind of predictable, I still wondered how it would eventually end up anyway. An additional advantage was the short playing time which in turn led to a proper pace. All in all, a fascinating film. Yet another proof that films that take place exclusively in one particular location, can also be entertaining. At least I didn’t need to fight against sleep, as those two guys.