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Title: Standoff

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :1.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:73

Voltage Pictures is not a studio one would really expect top notch films from. In fact I’ve only seen a handful of watchable films from them over their lifetime as a DTV studio. Mostly they just recycle old garbage from washed up actors and toss it on a disc. I don’t blame them for this, but their track record is NOT very good. In fact the only big “hit” these guys have had is “The Hurt Locker”, and to a lesser extent “Good Kill” with Ethan Hawke. They’ve had some guilty pleasures like some Steven Seagal movies like “Dangerous Man” and other such horrible films that are fun to watch with a few beers and lowered expectations, but overall I would have to say that there are a LOT more misses than hits. So needless to say I was quite surprised when I see another one of their films roll across my desk and see some actors that used to be big stars and are on their way out the acting door, and the film ends up being rather decent. Surprisingly so in fact. “Standoff” is not a wildly original film, in that we’ve see the whole “mano e mano” Mexican standoff happen before, but the saving grace of the movie is the simplicity of the concept, and the actual simplicity of the events that makes it work.

Thomas Jane plays a washed up old soldier named Carter who lost his son due to his own negligence. Beat up, washed up, and ready to crawl into a hole and die, Carter gets a kick in the pants when a 12 year old girl named Isabelle (Ella Balentine) runs into his farm house screaming her head off. It seems that a contract killer by name of Sade (Lawrence Fishbourne) is hot on her heels and he aims to off the little girl after his face is seen during a contract a few miles over. Carter manages to get Isabelle inside the house and upstairs, but not before Sade manages to wing him. As fate would have it, Carter is able to get off a lucky shot with his 20 gauge shotgun and return the favor before limping upstairs to hole up with the 12 year old girl. Sade offers to leave Carter alone if he sends down the girl so he can send her to heaven and keep his cover intact, but Carter is not ready to let another child die on his watch, leaving the two men to play a game of cat and mouse inside of a house that will only let one of them leave alive.

There really isn’t a whole lot to write about as the movie is rather simple and self-contained. The writers and director thought that way too as the movie barely clocks in at 80 minutes before the credits start to roll. In fact that is actually a boon to the film, as any longer and the already limited plot would have had to start stretching itself any further than it actually had. The scenario is simple. Two men and a girl are inside of a house with only one major entrance. If Sade tries to get up those stairs then he gets a face full of buckshot, and if Carter tries to go down those stairs he has to face a .45 caliber pistol that can certainly fire faster than the single round he has left in his shotgun.

As I mentioned, the saving grace of the movie is the simplicity of the situation. There are only 7 people in the entire movie and 4 of them only show up for a few seconds to a few minutes each. The rest of the time we are privy only to Carter, Sade and Isabelle in a sort of psychological war over who will come out victorious of the “prize” of Isabelle. The low budget is not nearly as evident as one would expect from a DTV flick, and once again, that’s mainly due to the simplicity that has been stated before. One house plus a few country scenic shots and you can pretty much do whatever you want with such a limited budget. Carter and Sade spend most of their time chipping away at the other’s defenses, hoping that sooner or later the other will make a mistake, or at least show a chink in the armor so the other can use it against them.

I really wonder what happened to Thomas Jane. He was making some decent waves during the first decade of the 21st century with stuff like “The Punisher”, “Original Sin”, “Magnolia” and even the guilty pleasure “Deep Blue Sea”, but suddenly went straight off the map into DTV material. I was hoping for more starring roles as the craggy faced actor has always been a lot of fun to watch, hovering just on the edge of making it really big. Lawrence Fisbourne, on the other hand, was a bit more than just “on the edge”. He dominated film for quite a few years and made a big name as a leading man. Sadly aging actors have to fall into the role of supporting characters or starring men in DTV films. As have so many before him, Fishbourne seems to be headed down the latter path as we speak. All brevity and sadness aside, “Standoff” is a surprisingly decent film with a solid acting job by both the leads. They aren’t asked to do a WHOLE lot to stretch themselves, but they take their jobs seriously enough and give believable performances despite the holes in the script. The only really weak spot in the entire movie is a few moments where you sit there going “wait a second, did they honestly write them”? Moments such as a young rookie cop who refuses to call for a backup after hearing gunshots, or lines of dialog that just feel cheesy and forced.


Rated R for strong violence and language throughout

Video :4stars:
Given a 2.39:1 AVC scope image, “Standoff” looks rather pleasing with sharp details and good color saturation. Given a sort of burnished look for the inside of the house, the image maintains a strong level of detail coupled with some dimly lit scenes that lend towards and orange hue. Outside looks really nice, with deep greens that pop off the screen combined with bright blue skies and natural looking contrast levels. Shadows can look a bit washed out at times and there’s a bit of crush, but facial details are strong and despite some overall softness to the picture, the image is extremely stable with a lot to offer.

Audio :4stars:
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio is not going to blow you away, but from the description of the movie I wasn’t expecting it to either. The stage is set and that stage happens to be inside of a small farmhouse where two men are talking to each other for 90% of the runtime. As a result you can expect a very front heavy track that focuses in on the dialog and adds in a smattering of surround activity in the case of gunshots, creaking floor boards and the sound of police sirens in the distance. There’s some LFE activity with the afore mentioned gunshots, and to fill out the score, but this isn’t a blockbuster level situation and thus not a blockbuster audio experience. The dialog is always crisp and cleanly defined, although every once in a while I felt that it got a bit soft. The movie doesn’t require a WHOLE lot from the 80 minute film, but the movie does a good job at fulfilling all the requirements asked of it.

Extras :1.5stars:

• A Fight to the Death: The Making of "Standoff"
• Also from Lionsgate

Overall: :3.5stars:

“Standoff” is not going to revitalize either of the two man lead’s careers, but it is a surprisingly watchable film that has the benefit of being brutal and exceptionally simple in its execution. Things seem to work besides the presence of some wonky writing and next to no budget. The film was supposedly shot in only a few weeks and despite the weak dialog the film isn’t any worse for wear. Thomas Jane plays the tough guy to a T, and Lawrence Fishbourne is always enjoyable as an over the top character. Something he doesn’t play enough of. Audio and video are more than acceptable for a low budget film and will leave no one disappointed. The extras are a bit slim, but with a story this straight forward and simple, there’s not a whole lot that would be of interest to most viewers. Definitely worth a watch.

Additional Information:

Starring: Thomas Jane, Lawrence Fishbourne, Joanna Douglas
Directed by: Adam Alleca
Written by: Adam Alleca
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Lionsgate
Rated: R
Runtime: 86 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 19th 2016

Buy Standoff Blu-ray on Amazon

Recommendation: Worth a Watch

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