29 December 2015 | The_Phantom_Projectionist
"That is so out of your zip code"
GUTSHOT STRAIGHT is a basic, slightly weird noir-thriller that was seemingly cast at random. The eclectic team of stars populating this one is its most unique asset, while everything else is predictable and firmly in the B-grade of cinematic standing. It's good for a lazy evening's repast, but it's got no hope of becoming anyone's new favorite.
The story: A hapless gambler (George Eads) is drawn into a vicious setup that places his life at risk.
In addition to Eads, the ensemble includes AnnaLynne McCord as the femme fatale, Stephen Lang and Ted Irvine as creepy weirdos, Steven Seagal as a mob boss and Vinnie Jones as his enforcer, and Tia Carrere in a three-minute role as a club lady. Despite most of the cast's affiliation with the action genre, there is very little action here, but at the best of times, there's a decent amount of intrigue. Essentially, the plot boils down to a slain millionaire and a case of blackmail, and when the film kicks into gear, the angst experienced by the Eads character is palpable and compelling. Disappointingly, suspense collapses in the form of Seagal's character, who's essentially written as a panacea to the lead character's problems and wrests an unconvincing happy end for the star.
Even before then, the film has trouble maintaining its level of suspense. Giving every impression of trying to stretch their screenplay to meet a required runtime, the filmmakers resort to several time-killing scenes – sometimes it's a forced interaction between characters, and other times it's simply Eads walking around aimlessly. Speaking of which, it doesn't help the movie that the Eads character is a thoroughly unlikable and uninteresting jerk. Most of the other major characters are at least mildly interesting, but whatever time Eads doesn't spend directly imperiled is spent being a cad and a loser. The times that the film does get interesting are due to the hard work of the story, not of the protagonist.
Among all of the performers whose name got drawn out of a hat to be in here, Seagal is the most curious. It's almost as though his scenes were filmed for another movie, given the abrupt change of tone the film undergoes as soon as he shows up, playing the mafioso persona he's cultivated for the last several years. I almost wish that Seagal were the main character, because even if this didn't actually improve the quality of the film, it at least would have made it shorter. As is, it feels overlong at 85 minutes, and I cannot recommend it to anyone but George Eads die-hards.