Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Stand Off Delivers an Inconsistent Tone: A Movie Review

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*full disclosure: a DVD screener of this film was provided by Ketchup Entertainment.

Director: Terry George.

Writers: Thomas Gallagher and Terry George.

Cast: Brendan Fraser, Colm Meaney, Martin McCann, Yaya Alafia and David O'Hara.

Stand Off is an Ireland shot comedy from Oscar Award winner Terry George (Hotel Rwanda). From the promotional material, the film looks like a heist thriller. However, Stand Off is a light-hearted film that deals with family issues. The United Kingdom actors provide some realistic Irish brogue and the film has some solid dramatic moments, but the film is missing a much needed edge.

The film is set in the director's hometown, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Here, a desperate man, Jimbo (Martin McCann), owes a local gangster over 5K IR£. He only has a short window to make the money back. Or the hood, Mad Dog Flynn (David O'Hara), will take Jimbo's child. Understandably, Jimbo is motivated to find the money and he robs a local fish market. Jimbo then takes refuge in a local antique store, which is owned possibly by his father (Brendan Fraser). Many other subplots take place. Yet, Stand Off is essentially a bank heist drama with a sprinkle of comedy throw in.

A romantic element acts as a another sidebar

All of the acting in this title is well done. Dublin, Ireland born actor Colm Meaney plays a detective assigned to the heist and Meaney, again, powers through his material. Meaney is able to switch from drama to comedy fluidly and Meaney is the strongest actor in this piece. David O' Hara is also able to deliver a menacing villain. His scenes are often on the side as the film focuses on some hit and miss comedy. Yet, O'Hara is able to bring a believable ex-paramilitary inspired performance to this light piece. Other Irish born actors are equally credible. Only Brendan Fraser as the protagonist delivers some mediocrity. Fraser is good as Joe Maguire, a womanizer on the run. He is best with drama. But, Fraser is unable to telegraph some of the film's tension. He seems unfazed by the film's climax, which involves dozens of police officers with trained weapons. The film's acting is decent, overall and this film element is probably the movie's strongest feature.

The tone of the film seems to bounce around a bit. There are some serious tones introduced early, thanks to Mad Dog. Mad Dog brings some conflict through his torture scenes. The film is centrally a comedy, though. The many fart and shite jokes get tired quickly. Other geographic jokes are a little flat. This critic was smiling through some of the jokes, but this is not laugh out loud material. The drama seems to throw off much of the comedic dialogue.

Stand Off is a fairly light production. This title is not for thriller or action fans, despite the promotional material's misleading marketing. Instead, this is a comedic piece. The comedic lines are given better attention from Meaney, compared to Fraser. However, the comedy seems to bounce off of the drama, which keeps the film's tone inconsistent. This is a title that is suitable for a light date night or for a family's night in. Everyone else will be disappointed by the averageness of the material.

Overall: 6.25 out of 10 (lots of diverging subplots, light watch, thrills were almost completely absent)

*previously titled Whole Lotta Sole.

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