Monday, June 7, 2010

The Stranger (2010)

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Tagline:

His past was taken. His vengeance is fueled.

Back of DVD:

Pro wrestling legend Steven Austin stars as a man with no name, no memory and absolutely nothing left. But when he finds himself hunted by both the FBI and the Russian mob, this amnesiac decides to fight back. Pursuit cannot stop him. Torture will not break him. And with every beating, bullet and betrayal he'll remember another piece of the horror that took away his career, his family and his identity. Now the puzzle is nearly complete, and one man is about to take back his past... by ending a whole lot of futures.

Erica Cerra (Eureka) and Adam Beach (Flags of Our Fathers) co-star in this explosive action-thriller about collateral damage, stone cold vengeance, and a double-crossed killing machine known as The Stranger.

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Movie Review:

Sometimes DTV flicks turn out different to you expect. Sometimes the cover draws you in to it. Sometimes the trailers downright lie to you. This was a case of all three. The majority of the action sequences in the movie are shown in the trailer below, but don't let that stop you reading the rest of this review. There is more to see here.

After a black and white flashback sequence we follow a bearded, homeless looking guy running through the city back streets at night, being shot at by some sort of SWAT team with machine guns. They lose him after a few careful jumps over chain-link fences and the like and give up. Cut to the chick from Eureka (the one who plays the town deputy, actress Erica Cerra) teaching a class about some sciency type stuff when she receives an SMS: "Our guy is back".

She meets up with an FBI agent friend who tells her that her guy, Steve Austin, has been sited. Apparently he intervened in a kidnapping trade with a little girl and her father and killed the gunman. This act has put his case back at the top of the wanted list. And the chick from Eureka cares because Steve Austin was her patient (she's a doctor). The FBI care because Austin used to be an FBI informant and knows who the mole tipping off the Russian mafia is. The problem is ol' Stevey has lost his memory and doesn't know what time of day it is.

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At the Mexican border three months later, Austin is trucking a load of watermelons (!) and is stopped by the border patrol. They don't take kindly to him and assume he is carrying border-crossers so threaten to shoot his watermelons. Stevey being protective of said watermelons wrestles the cop, takes his gun and shoots them. The next day Austin calls the Eureka girl but doesn't know why or how he got her number; it was just the only number he could remember, but she tracks him down to an Oregon fishing town. Austin also manages to get a job working on a fishing boat with a Russian guy. After a hard days work he goes to the bar and is told Eureka-girl was looking for him. They eventually meet up in a hotel and she tries to explain his past to him.

The movie is more like The Fugitive than the ruthless vigilante movie the poster and cover blurb suggest. But I happened to like The Fugitive so was quite fond of this. There is a lot of police procedural work as the FBI are always one step behind Austin and Cerra but also enough fights, interrogations, guys thrown through windows and off buildings, and even a car-motorbike chase to hold your attention as the doctor unravels layers of Austin's hidden memories of his past life. There's also some double-crossing and 'who can you trust' moments to make it more interesting. Austin also gets a cheesy one-liner so keep an ear open for it (hint: it's when he throws the guy through the motel window).

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This is not what I expected, but it was enjoyable all the same. The acting was all pretty good and Austin can manage this type of character quite well. The constant flashbacks got on my nerves a bit and the shaky-cam was getting annoying, but both can be explained as needed plot devices and a downside of low budget filmmaking. The intro sequence was both shaky and half-speed so I started to feel seasick. One nice scene not shown in the trailer is Austin fighting his way out of a car junkyard that is surrounded by armed agents. He knocks out a couple of agents by sneaking up on them and steals ones gun and another's smoke grenade. There are a few great shots of nothing but smoke and scared cops trying to locate Austin who will emerge from the smoke and take a sucker out. Austin also relates well with Erica Cerra, a lot better than someone like The Rock would, and doesn't fly off the handle with her when she tells him his life is a lie. He takes it rather well, actually.

Saying any more will give the plot away so I will end by saying that this is worth a rental if you are able (it's not out in Australia yet, but you Americans are luckier) or even a blind buy if you liked The Fugitive and can handle DV film-making. This is the first Steve Austin movie I have seen so I am curious to see how others like The Condemned and Damage fair. He's also in The Expendables with the rest of Hollywood, and another one coming up with Eric Roberts and Gary Daniels called "Hunt to Kill". Sounds like a Seagal title!

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The Video:

I reviewed the Anchor Bay Entertainment zone A Bluray disc. The quality was of course great being a bluray and the surround-sound clear, but the increased resolution of high definition video draws attention to the obvious low budget of this movie and its usage of HD DV cameras. Blacks are deep and colours rich, within the limitations of DV photography, but DV filming always has 'that look' that makes it seem cheaper than it needs to be.

Sourced From:

$19 from eBay USA + shipping

Trailer:

More Screens:

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2 comments:

  1. I totally missed the boat on this one, and now it's chilling with the dreaded Very Long Long Wait label in my Netflix queue. Hopefully that will change soon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's worth the wait, at least in my opninion. How long does 'Very long wait' usually mean?

    ReplyDelete

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