The Prodigy

Mixing underworld crime meller and serial-killer horror, "The Prodigy" provides no real surprises premise-wise. But tyro helmer William Kaufman more than compensates for sometimes murky tale's familiar genre elements with punchy ultra violence, vivid atmosphere and a first-rate tech sheen on a smalltime budget.

With:
With: Holt Boggs, Mirelly Taylor, Glen Vorhis, Matt Beckham, Diana Lee Inosanto, Lawrence Varnado, Marc Jeffreys, Mark Hanson, Jimmy Costello, Russell White, Dameon Clark, Jay Moses.

Mixing underworld crime meller and serial-killer horror, “The Prodigy” provides no real surprises premise-wise. But tyro helmer William Kaufman more than compensates for sometimes murky tale’s familiar genre elements with punchy ultra violence, vivid atmosphere and a first-rate tech sheen on a smalltime budget. Major collaborators on Texas-shot indie are sure to start fielding West Coast offers, while pic itself reps a small but smart pickup for rental and cable companies.

Truman (Ben Affleck-looking co-scenarist Holt Boggs) is a mob enforcer first seen posing as a cop in an attempt to shut down a rival syndicate’s operations. The tense standoff turns into a bloodbath with the mysterious, sudden appearance of a heavily disguised and armored third party dubbed “Claude Rains” because he’s feared in felonious circles as a sadistic, “invisible” hit man.

Only Truman appears to survive the melee, but Claude — who Truman left for dead — also lives and goes on to slaughter some of Truman’s boss’ posse, kidnapping a most unfortunate nephew for prolonged torture.

Truman’s enraged boss assigns Truman to find Claude, a pursuit that Claude perversely encourages while staying just one deadly step ahead, laying waste to hero’s intimates and fellow wise guys.

Among the imperiled are hothead sidekick Pat (Matt Beckham), tough-girl Internet jockey Ash (Diana Lee Inosanto) and hulking strongman King (Lawrence Varnado), not to mention the inevitable bland love interest (whiny-voiced Mirelly Taylor as Nicki).

Pedestrian dialogue, routine character conceptions and some fuzzy plot points leave pic a bit flat whenever it’s not delivering pure creeps or combustive thrills. Fortunately, that’s seldom — even given the fairly long runtime. (Midsection could be tightened a whit or two.) Aided by excellent lensing, editorial and design contribs, Kaufman creates taut suspense and dynamic action set pieces.

Special kudos are due fight choreographer Ron Balicki for visceral combat that looks punishing rather than cartoonish.

The few really tired devices — the gang’s forced pop-culture banter, killer’s mystical mumbo-jumbo in messages left at his crime scenes –make it clear how indebted pic is to the basic templates forged by “Reservoir Dogs” and “Se7en.” But style and enthusiasm lift it past simple imitation, with a cracking, bloody good B-flick the result.

Perfs are generally solid, tech aspects accomplished.

The Prodigy

Production: A Ken Dundon presentation of an F5 Films production. Produced by David Rucker. Executive producer, Ken Dundon. Co-producers, Lawrence Varnado, Colby Mitchell. Directed by William Kaufman. Screenplay, Kaufman, Holt Boggs, Matt Beckham.

Crew: Camera (color, Super 16mm), Mark Rutledge; editor, Russell White; music, Matt Chaney, Matt Piersall; production designer and f/x make-up, Jason Mueller; sound, Lesa Foust; fight choreographer, Ron Balicki; assistant director, Jay Moses. Reviewed at Another Hole in the Head Film Festival, San Francisco, June 5, 2005. Running time: 120 MIN.

With: With: Holt Boggs, Mirelly Taylor, Glen Vorhis, Matt Beckham, Diana Lee Inosanto, Lawrence Varnado, Marc Jeffreys, Mark Hanson, Jimmy Costello, Russell White, Dameon Clark, Jay Moses.

More Film

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    South Australia Uncaps Post-Production Rebate Scheme

    Mixing underworld crime meller and serial-killer horror, “The Prodigy” provides no real surprises premise-wise. But tyro helmer William Kaufman more than compensates for sometimes murky tale’s familiar genre elements with punchy ultra violence, vivid atmosphere and a first-rate tech sheen on a smalltime budget. Major collaborators on Texas-shot indie are sure to start fielding West […]

  • Korea's Gang Dong-won to Star in

    Korea's Gang Dong-won to Star in Simon West’s ‘Tsunami LA’

    Mixing underworld crime meller and serial-killer horror, “The Prodigy” provides no real surprises premise-wise. But tyro helmer William Kaufman more than compensates for sometimes murky tale’s familiar genre elements with punchy ultra violence, vivid atmosphere and a first-rate tech sheen on a smalltime budget. Major collaborators on Texas-shot indie are sure to start fielding West […]

  • Korea Box Office: 'Steel Rain' Defeats

    Korea Box Office: 'Steel Rain' Defeats 'Star Wars' to Dominate Weekend

    Mixing underworld crime meller and serial-killer horror, “The Prodigy” provides no real surprises premise-wise. But tyro helmer William Kaufman more than compensates for sometimes murky tale’s familiar genre elements with punchy ultra violence, vivid atmosphere and a first-rate tech sheen on a smalltime budget. Major collaborators on Texas-shot indie are sure to start fielding West […]

  • netflix-the-little-prince

    Mediawan Closes In on Acquisition of Dimitri Rassam's ON Kids & Family

    Mixing underworld crime meller and serial-killer horror, “The Prodigy” provides no real surprises premise-wise. But tyro helmer William Kaufman more than compensates for sometimes murky tale’s familiar genre elements with punchy ultra violence, vivid atmosphere and a first-rate tech sheen on a smalltime budget. Major collaborators on Texas-shot indie are sure to start fielding West […]

  • China Box Office: Local Titles 'Youth'

    China Box Office: Local Titles 'Youth' and 'Dunjia' Dominate Weekend

    Mixing underworld crime meller and serial-killer horror, “The Prodigy” provides no real surprises premise-wise. But tyro helmer William Kaufman more than compensates for sometimes murky tale’s familiar genre elements with punchy ultra violence, vivid atmosphere and a first-rate tech sheen on a smalltime budget. Major collaborators on Texas-shot indie are sure to start fielding West […]

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Four Reasons Why 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Isn't One for the Ages

    Mixing underworld crime meller and serial-killer horror, “The Prodigy” provides no real surprises premise-wise. But tyro helmer William Kaufman more than compensates for sometimes murky tale’s familiar genre elements with punchy ultra violence, vivid atmosphere and a first-rate tech sheen on a smalltime budget. Major collaborators on Texas-shot indie are sure to start fielding West […]

  • Mark Hamill and Ted Cruz Get

    Mark Hamill and Ted Cruz Get in Net Neutrality-Related Twitter Fight

    Mixing underworld crime meller and serial-killer horror, “The Prodigy” provides no real surprises premise-wise. But tyro helmer William Kaufman more than compensates for sometimes murky tale’s familiar genre elements with punchy ultra violence, vivid atmosphere and a first-rate tech sheen on a smalltime budget. Major collaborators on Texas-shot indie are sure to start fielding West […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content