×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Down and Dangerous’

An extremely generic and empty tale of a drug smuggler toying with cops and criminals alike.

With:

John T. Woods, Paulie Rojas, Ross Marquand, Judd Nelson, Ernie Curcio, Dusty Sorg, and Luis Robello.

The ’80s are back in cheap, imitative and soulless form with “Down and Dangerous,” a low-budget, Kickstarter-backed drug thriller from writer-director Zak Forsman. Relying on a synthesized score, over-saturated cinematography and frustratingly cliched dialogue, this is an extremely generic, truly empty tale of a drug smuggler involved with cops and criminals alike. Despite some initial teases in shot composition, nothing much sticks out beyond the generalities at play. It’s hard to believe the film will find much of an audience beyond its social-media backers.

The project’s weird background perhaps explains some of the limitations: Forsman’s father, Robert Sabbag, authored a 1998 memoir titled “Snowblind: A Brief Career in the Cocaine Trade,” which was promptly bought for movie adaptation but has yet to make it to the screen. Unable to license the rights, Forsman instead crafted this original story made in his father’s honor, although there’s hardly anything original about it.

Paul Boxer (John T. Woods) is a smuggler who, on principle, always “runs solo.” After seeing a friend shot in cold blood, he takes action by going undercover with the drug cartel that set up the hit, while also toying with the police who want him to turn and make the big bust, while also hunting down his friend’s shooter. Add to that the fact that the cartel boss’ girlfriend, Olivia (Paulie Rojas), happens to be the woman he lost years ago and who, no surprise, still has feelings for him.

Forsman never makes any of these convoluted threads particularly engaging, sticking to double-crosses, confrontations and redemptive arcs that couldn’t feel more hackneyed or familiar; the dialogue similarly ranges from tedious (“You’re in over your head”) to banal (“This is important. This is something to hold onto”). “Down and Dangerous” is clearly a tribute to Forsman’s father, but one wishes this particular protagonist didn’t feel so derivative of the hundreds of other movie characters that have come before him.

Clearly influenced by the “’80s renaissance” of Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive,” the occasionally minimalist staging makes good use of the widescreen frame, but these stylistic choices remain disconnected from the narrative. An early cat-and-mouse shootout in the desert is cleverly staged, but later car chases and fight sequences feel at once incoherent and budget-conscious, failing to deliver much in the way of spectacle or excitement. As shot by Addison Brock III, the blues and yellows of Los Angeles and Mexico feel overbearingly pretentious (five of the six first shots include some sort of lens flare), and the pulsating beats of Deklun’s score take on a similar monotony. Other tech credits are economically suited to the film’s slick style.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'Down and Dangerous'

Reviewed on Blu-ray, New York, Jan. 30, 2014. Running time: 96 MIN.

Production:

An Artis Entertainment presentation of a Sabi Co. production. Produced by Kevin K. Shah. Executive producers, Mike Altmann, Austin Lynn Austin, John E. Clark, Barry Green. Co-Producers, Jamie Cobb, Erik Reese.

Crew:

Directed, written by Zak Forsman. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Addison Brock III; editor, Jamie Cobb; music; Deklun; special effects makeup, Brian Ricketts; assistant director, Randolph Scott.

With:

John T. Woods, Paulie Rojas, Ross Marquand, Judd Nelson, Ernie Curcio, Dusty Sorg, and Luis Robello.

More Film

  • Nouras-Dream

    ‘Noura’s Dream’ Director Hinde Boujemaa Owes It All To The Arab Spring

    SAN SEBASTIAN —  Hinde Boujemaa might have started her filmmaking career later than others, but she hasn’t lost any time in the subsequent years. The Tunisian director’s 2012 documentary “It Was Better Tomorrow” premiered at the Venice Film Festival, and she now returns with her feature-length fiction debut, “Noura’s Dream,” which follows a working-class woman [...]

  • Nudo-Mixteco

    Ángeles Cruz’s ‘Nudo Mixteco’ Impresses at San Sebastian Works in Progress

    SAN SEBASTIAN —   Ángeles Cruz, one of Mexico’s highest-profile indigenous cineasts, screened for the first time a nearly-finished version of her feature debut “Nudo Mixteco” at the San Sebastian Films in Progress sidebar. Having won two Mexican Academy Ariel Awards for her first two shorts, “Nudo Mixteco” arrived in Spain buzzing. It deftly intertwines [...]

  • NUESTRAS-MADRES-OUR-MOTHERS

    Outsider Pictures Nabs U.S. Rights to 'Our Mothers,' Belgium's Oscar Submission (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN —    Paul Hudson’s Outsider Pictures has picked-up U.S. distribution rights to César Díaz’s “Nuestras madres” (“Our Mothers”), Belgium’s submission for the international feature film Academy Award. Sold by Pyramide International, “Our Mothers” world premiered at Cannes’ Critics Week, winning the Golden Camera for best first film at the Cannes Festival. Outsider Pictures [...]

  • El-Peso

    Basque Industry Backs Female Filmmakers with Noka Mentoring Program

    SAN SEBASTIAN — The Noka Mentoring program, a local initiative to support up-and-coming Basque female filmmakers, kicked off on Monday morning at this year’s 67th San Sebastian Film Festival. The program was co-developed by the Basque Government’s Department of Culture and Language Policy and Zineuskadi, a non-profit org set up by the department and the two [...]

  • INLAND

    Basque Production: New, Upcoming Titles

    ‘+90dB’ A Basque rock band travels the globe playing to diehard fans from Japan, the U.S., Germany and France. Marina Lameiro’s second film, produced by Arena Comunicación and Txalap.art. ‘918 NIGHTS’ Arantza Santesteban writes and directs her first feature documentary in which she explores the experience of being incarcerated for what seemed to be 918 [...]

  • THE-PLATFORM

    Basque Cinema Broadens Industrial Base

    SAN SEBASTIAN — Basque cinema is attacking the future with higher industrial and creative expectations than ever, playing off two motors: Co-production with other parts of Spain, international equity partnerships. Two game-changers in the Basque film landscape, “Handia,” winner of 10 Spanish Academy Goya Awards in 2018, and “Loreak,” Spain’s 2016 Oscar submission, have contributed [...]

  • The Taste Of Pho

    'The Taste Of Pho' Bows Trailer Ahead Of San Sebastian World Premiere (EXCLUSIVE)

    Poland’s New Europe Film Sales is handling worldwide sales rights to Mariko Bobrik’s feature debut “The Taste of Pho.” The food drama’s trailer is launching exclusively in Variety ahead of its world premiere at the San Sebastian Film Festival’s Culinary Cinema sidebar. Described as a story about love, misunderstanding and food, “The Taste of Pho” follows Long, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content