(director: Christian Sesma; screenwriters: Chad Law, Garry Charles, Brandon Burrows; cinematographer: Anthony J. Rickert-Epstein; editors: Brian Zwiener, James Kondelik; cast:  Frank Grillo (Michael ‘Duffy’ Duffield), Mekhi Phifer (Max Bomer), Jaime King (Det. Ellen Ridgefield), Dermot Mulroney (Sage Parker), Jailyn Rae (Hannah), Erica Peeples (Rachel), Paul Sloan (Detective Kincaid, dirty cop), Kevin Gage (Poe), Scott Adkins (Reaper), Amaury Nolasco (Fosco, fight promoter), Jessica Medina (Valentina), JuJu Chan Szeto (Lynx), Donald Cerrone (Carter, boxer), Justin Furstenfeld (Stan ‘The Man’ Musial); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Brandon Burrows; Firebrand; 2024)

“Dreary B-film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Action-pic filmmaker Christian Sesma (“Section 8″/”The Night Crew”) directs this dreary B-film. Its stale, dumb and predictable story has too much ambition for such an unnecessarily complex plot. It is lamely written with cliches by Chad Law and Garry Charles.

It tells of the ex-military man, Duffy (Frank Grillo), who has PTSD issues he can’t deal with and gets no help.

For over half the film it introduces us to somewhat complex characters, but in the third act it turns ugly with an onslaught of violence that nails it down as a second-rate film caring more about the action scenes than the social-conscience issues raised.

Duffy was traumatized fighting in the war eight years ago in Afghanistan, after so many of his comrades died or were seriously wounded. Now as a civilian he’s a drifter in L. A., who is trying to survive on the streets without help for his PTSD problem.

In a bar, he gets into a card game. Max (Mekhi Phifer), a smooth talking boxing promoter just released from jail, sees him pummel some card players who falsely accused him of cheating. He thereby entices him to earn some quick money as an underground illegal bare-knuckle fighter.

Duffy’s good at fighting, and Max gets him squared away in his house, where he lives with his single sister Rachel (Erica Peeples), who is raising her teen daughter Hannah (Jailyn Rae) she had with her small-time criminal ex-boyfriend. Her former lover works for Sage Parker (Dermot Mulroney), the gym owner mobster where the underground fights take place
. Sage is a low-life middle-man to the local mob. He partners with the ruthless dirty detective Ellen Ridgefield (Jaime King) and her gang of crooked cops. When Sage’s boss has money problems over a matter of missing money and blames Max and his family, Sage tries to solve the problem.

But Duffy sours on the bad lot of characters he’s surrounded by and enlists Reaper (Scott Adkins), his combat buddy in Afghanistan, to help him take down the corrupt cops and mobsters in a wild but unfulfilling shoot-out in the last act.