12 December 2008 | lost-in-limbo
The hard times bring out the best.
Out of the ordinary for Norris? In a way it does feel like it, but still those sweaty and muscle-bound elements are still evident but in a lesser tone. Norris does kick some ass, but he plays a scarred, guilt-ridden and unsure character that doesn't see himself as some sort of hero (the media portrays) with the main focus being on the welfare of his girlfriend and their expected baby. Some might say that it's a sombre performance with little emotion, but it's a heartfelt turn that you feel every aching and haunting thought. Complementing that broad complexion is David Michael Frank's score, which is always there and holds a sorrow edge. The story builds upon its material with a humane angle, as Norris battles the demons (spares us some wry relationship humour) while the killer (the terror) is mainly a lumbering shadow that emits terror in the most basic and raw way. It's primal and old-fashion police-killer premise, but stays stimulating throughout. That's not discarding some repetitive and contrived inclusions, and how the killer does feel secondary to Norris. William Tannen's direction gradually forms suspense and moves quick enough (even with some useless spots). The action isn't eye-opening, but it's a sturdy display with moments of atmospheric lashings and the setting in a renovated movie theatre is a nice touch. The violence is quick, with the killer providing a sure cure for neck problems. An above-par cast do a sound job. Brynn Thayer excels as Norris' girlfriend. Jack O'Halloran's animalistic, brute physique is his performance and Steve James is enjoyable too. Rounding the cast off; Ryan O'Neil, Jeffrey Kramer, Murphy Dunne and a short, but important see-in for Billy Drago (this guy has presence) who explains the creepy and unsettling nature of the wanted killer.