(director/writer: Aaron Harvey; cinematographer: John W. Rutland; editor: Richard Byard; music: James Curd; cast: Luke Grimes (Nick Brenner), Frank Grillo (Sloan), Marguerite Moreau (Tara Brenner), James Badge Dale (Sal), Brady Smith (Brad Engels), Robert Taylor (Frank Parson), Scott Peat (Bruce), Andrea Frankle (Marlene), David Cade (Charlie); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Robert Ogden Barnum, Eric Binns, Daniel Blanc, David Cade, Aaron Harvey, Jamin O’Brien; RLJE Films; 2019)

An unsatisfying rural crime flick.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An unsatisfying rural crime flick, with a familiar betrayal-revenge plot. It’s filmed as a bloody action pic by writer-director Aaron Harvey (“The Neighbor”/”The Evil Woods”) with possibilities of being Quentin Tarantino smart (which never happen). The so-so director aims to make it a fun pulp film, but the violence is laid on too thick for that.

Nick Brenner (Luke Grimes) is a seemingly happy upholstery worker in a small town in rural Alabama, who loves the quiet life and the opportunities there to go hunting. He has a great wife in Tara (Marguerite Moreau) and a great hunting buddy in Sal (James Badge Dale). But he has a dirty little secret from the past. Years ago he was a violent criminal and cheated his two partners out of stolen loot. One of the men he betrayed, the boss, Sloan (Frank Grillio), has just been released from prison and joins his partner Charlie (David Cade) and a few other cohorts to find where their betrayer Nick is hiding.

When Sloan finds Nick’s new home by forcing the info from a friend of Nick’s and then shooting him, he goes to Nick’s house and kills his wife Tara.

Nick’s grieving father-in-law Frank (Robert Taylor), the local sheriff, never liked or trusted Nick and holds him responsible for her murder.

The narrative gives us the back story on Nick and his criminal past, and shows him now as a reformed criminal being exposed. Nick has waited all this time for the inevitable knock on the door from Sloan, and when it comes his quiet life crashes.

The capable supporting cast can’t get past this predictable and all too familiar story-line, the thinly drawn characters and a resolution that offers nothing new. The thriller looks and acts much like so many other superficial films (think Charles Bronson!) using this same theme, that it seems a shame to shell out good money to see it in the theater when you know it will soon be on cable TV.

Frank Grillo, Robert Taylor, and Luke Grimes in Into the Ashes (2019)

REVIEWED ON 7/22/2019       GRADE: C+