LINE OF DUTY
(director: Steven C. Miller; screenwriter: Jeremy Drysdale; cinematographer: Brandon Cox; editor: Stan Salfas; music: The Newton Brothers; cast: Aaron Eckhart (Frank Penny), Courtney Eaton (Ava Brooks), Giancarlo Esposito (Chief Volk), Ben McKenzie (Dean Keller), Jessica Lu (Clover), Dina Meyer (Ruth Carter), Jan Jeffcoat (News Anchor), Elijah Cooper (D’Brickshaw ‘D’ Martin), Gary Peebles (Bunny), James Hutchison (Max Keller), Betsy Landin (Maya Prinz), Nikola Shreli (Hendrix), J. Cameron Barnett (Transport Driver), Nichelle Williams (Claudia); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Myles Nestel, Craig Chapman, Skip Williamson, Scott LaStaiti, Tiffany Stone, Martin Sprock, Renee Tab, Christopher Tuffi; Saban Films/Lionsgate; 2019)
“A forgettable but watchable high-energy police thriller.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A forgettable but watchable high-energy police thriller that can’t be taken seriously despite wanting to be.The straight-to-video film is about a disgraced loner LA beat cop (placed on administrative leave after accidentally shooting a kidnapping suspect during an undercover sting), who tries to redeem himself as the kidnapping gets more involved. It was filmed in Birmingham, Alabama, which I guess can easily pass for LA. Veteran action director Steven C. Miller (“First Kill”/”Arsenal”) and screenwriter Jeremy Drysdale succeed in keeping this ridiculous story ridiculous throughout.
Los Angeles police chief Volk (Giancarlo Esposito, in a wasted performance for the talented actor) can only bellow with rage when his 11-year-old daughter (Nichelle Williams) is abducted and her life threatened with death if not saved in time. She’s enclosed in a glass box that will soon fill with water. When the suspended patrolman Frank Penny (Aaron Eckhart) gets wind of this by tracking the abductor’s accomplice (Ben McKenzie), he goes rogue to try and save her.
The screenwriter thought it would be a good idea to get a young attractive woman into the action, so the idealistic internet journalist Ava Brooks (Courtney Eaton), working for a feminist anti-establishment website, finds out about the abduction and talks her opposite, the ‘old school’ Frank, into letting her come along to record things on her cellphone.
Things become unintentionally funny when it starts delivering earnest but banal messages that are pro-police, such as Ava suddenly discovering that not all cops are bad despite witnessing some bad actions by a number of them and having Frank put a Glock to her head to make a point about how dangerous it is to be a cop.
An added storyline filler has TV news producer Ruth Carter (Dina Meyer) broadcast Ava’s livestream in real-time.
During Frank’s heroic efforts, the film tries for dumb comedy by making a big thing out of Frank’s ignorance of modern technology. Meanwhile there’s a high body count with all the action (fights, car and foot chases, and shootouts).
Sometimes a bad film can be fun, this was one of those times.
REVIEWED ON 1/27/2020 GRADE: C+ https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/