'Destined': Film Review

DESTINED Still Cory Hardrict Jesse Metcalfe Paula Devicq Still H 2016
Courtesy of PMNBNC
Trips on its own ambitions.

The central character in Qasim Basir's drama is seen living two very different parallel lives.

Qasim Basir's indie drama Destined proves both uncommonly ambitious and frustratingly derivative. Presenting the life of its central character as it plays out in alternative universes, the pic traffics in territory made familiar in numerous films and plays such as Sliding Doors. But it also rises above the usual level of melodrama in its thematic concerns that make it of more than passing interest.

The Detroit-set urban drama begins with a teenager, who works for a drug dealer, experiencing a life-changing incident that results in his spinning off into parallel destinies. In one, he's Sheed, a criminal who rises to the top of a drug empire. In the other, he's Rasheed, an architect who works for a major corporation. Both versions of the character are played by Cory Hardrict.

The film shifts back and forth between the two stories, and not always in explicable fashion. Although writer/director Basir applies subtle visual cues as to which one we're watching, they sometimes bleed into each other to confusing effect. Nor are they equally interesting: Sheed's story devolves into familiar crime drama tropes, while Rasheed's, concerning an ambitious housing development plan that becomes ensnared in corporate/political machinations and corruption, proves much more intriguing. Several of the characters show up in both stories, with such actors as Jesse Metcalfe, Robert Christopher Riley and Jason Dohring playing alternate versions.

Unfortunately, the two stories add up to less than the sum of their parts, with the intertwining narratives failing to comment on each other in sufficiently resonant fashion. The movie projects a vivid sense of atmosphere, from Detroit's urban mean streets to plush corporate boardrooms, but it suffers from sluggish pacing and hackneyed dialogue and characterizations. Hardrict delivers a strong performance in his dual roles, and there are excellent supporting turns by the likes of Hill Harper as the mayor championing the housing project and Zuly Henao as the protagonist's old girlfriend. But despite their strong efforts, Destined seems destined for obscurity.

Production companies: Confluential Films, Whitewater Films, Q Productions
Distributor: XLrator Media
Cast: Cory Hardrict, Jesse Metcalfe, Robert Christopher Riley, Margot Bingham, La la Anthony, Hill Harper, Jason Dorhing, Zulay Henao
Director/screenwriter: Qasim Basir
Producers: Tommy Oliver, Rick Rosenthal, Matt Ratner, Codie Elaine Oliver
Director of photography: Carmen Cabana
Production designer: Deirdre Elizabeth Govan
Editor: Rene Besson
Costume designers: June Abro, Lauren Waterstone
Composer: John Jennings Boyd

92 minutes