'Dawn Patrol': Film Review

Courtesy of Falco Ink
 A wipe-out

Scott Eastwood stars in Daniel Petrie Jr.'s melodrama about a Southern California surfing clan seeking revenge for the murder of one of their own.

"I've got to tell you my story," says the central character to a masked woman holding a gun to his head in the opening moments of Daniel Petrie's low-rent revenge thriller. Unfortunately for the audience, his story does proceed to unfold in flashback, and at a maddeningly sluggish pace at that. Playing like a white-trash Greek tragedy, Dawn Patrol squanders the good will that budding screen heartthrob Scott Eastwood earned for his recent starring turn in The Longest Ride.

The chiseled actor, looking uncannily like his father in his Rawhide days, plays John, the most laid-back member of a southern California surfing family that includes his hot-headed brother Ben (Chris Brochu), his substance-addicted, anger-prone father Trick (Jeff Fahey) and his mother (Rita Wilson), who may be the toughest of the bunch.

Set in 2008, the film takes pains to depict the clan's impoverished financial circumstances, with their rage particularly directed at the Mexicans who dare to intrude on their favorite beach.

The plot is set in motion when Ben spots his on-again/off-again girlfriend Donna (Kim Matula) canoodling with her new guy, Miguel (Gabriel De Santi). A fight breaks out, and after Ben dispatches the interloper he throws Donna down on the surf and impulsively proposes, to which she responds by pulling down his pants.

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When Ben is later found murdered on the beach his parents assume the killer is Miguel, leading them to exhort John to exact revenge. As his father not so subtly puts it, "You've got a grave to cry on. Don't you want one to spit on?"

Donna, meanwhile, attempts to surmount her grief by immediately coming on to John, who despite his best intentions finds it impossible to resist when she takes off her clothes and practically attacks him.

Although the film purports to deal with serious themes, the melodramatic screenplay by Rachel Long and Brian Pittman, as well as Petrie's heavy-handed direction, reduce the proceedings to mere pulp. There's a very effective dramatic scene towards the end, when John goes to see Miguel's grieving mother, but by then it's too little, too late.

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Eastwood is sympathetic in the lead role, displaying the low-key charisma that bodes well for future outings in hopefully better projects. The scenery-chewing Wilson and Fahey fare less well, although to be fair they're saddled with ridiculous characters. But the worst victim is Matula, whose exploitative nude scenes leave a sour aftertaste.

Production: Enderby Entertainment
Cast: Scott Eastwood, Rita Wilson, Jeff Fahey, Kim Matula, Chris Brochu, Gabriel De Santi
Director: Daniel Petrie Jr.
Screenwriters: Rachel Long, Brian Pittman
Producers: Rick Dugdale, Scott Eastwood, Daniel Petrie Jr.
Executive producers: Robert Benson, Scott McManus, Erik Nord, Maggan Nord
Director of photography: Edd Lukas
Production designer: Marina Abramyan
Editor: Jack Colwell
Costume designer: Carrie Grace
Composer: Joe Kraemer
Casting: Julia Kim

Not rated, 87 minutes

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