A Flawed, But Very Watchable Effort–
I can’t remember the last time I got the chance to enjoy a non-horror thriller with settings like this, and perhaps I was expecting too much of Damian Lee’s Breakout. None of the thespians in this affair are ‘A’ listers either, but each gave decent performances, especially Holly Deveaux (Jen) and Ethan Suplee (Kenny). Suplee is well known for not being well known (if that makes any sort of sense), as he’s been in loads of high-profile movies, but always in small supporting roles. I’ve seen around ten of the actors films and this is the first time I’ve seen him get to do anything decent. He isn’t what you would call a character actor, but he did surprise me here, as his character, Kenny, suffered a brain injury before, causing some damage. It wasn’t an award-winning portrayal or anything but it was still good to see Suplee perform something a bit more challenging.
The story itself tried a bit too hard at times to be clever, and occasionally meandered off the beaten track, but it still maintained enough momentum, that forced you to pay closer attention. The tale, set in Canada, is actually well woven, and sees a tree-hugger (Brendan Fraser) go to prison for accidently killing a logger. While Jack is doing time, he and his wife have separated, but she still acts as his lawyer, however daughter Jen doesn’t want to know him. Jack’s old pal takes Jen and little brother Mikey (Christian Martyn) out to the forest for the day, but they witness a murder and are now being hunted by Tommy (Purcell) and Kenny. The brothers are up from the US and have crossed the border to live in a cabin that Tommy has rented for them. The landlord shows up and tries to evict them so Tommy murders him, but he’s spotted by Mikey. Jack escapes from prison after he finds out about the kids, and ends up in a game of cat and mouse with Tommy who is determined to kill all the witnesses.
This is a straight-to-dvd movie and on that basis is easily one of the better films of that type. The direction was good as were most of the performances, and kept a decent amount of tension once things started to really get going. There also weren’t any wasted scenes and the movie moved along at a respectable pace. Don’t expect too much of this film and you should really enjoy Breakout because, while it isn’t fault free, it is still worth watching, and is about as good as any straight-to-dvd film can get.
Review by Ed Blackadder, Special to Influx Magazine