Godspeed -- Film Review

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LAS VEGAS -- If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, then "Godspeed" should have let its evocative Alaskan backdrops do most of the talking.

Visually stirring but dramatically stilted, this heavy-handed dramatic thriller revolving around murder and retribution deservedly took home a CineVegas special jury prize for exceptional artistic achievement, but Robert Saitzyk's direction, the script (co-written with Cory Knauf) and self-absorbed performances all come up short.

Joseph McKelheer plays a morally challenged, self-styled healer who shuts himself off from society following the unsolved murder of his wife and son.

But he's coaxed out of the Alaskan wilderness by a determined young woman (Courtney Halverson), ostensibly to get help for her grief-stricken widowed father but in reality to deal with her seriously messed-up brother (Knauf) who has an unpleasant connection to McKelheer's past.

Weighted down by talky ethical and theological discourses, a plodding pace and listless characters, "Godspeed" never really gets up to speed on any engrossing level, save for Michael Hardwick's notable cinematography.

Shot entirely on location in Anchorage and Wasilla using the RED One digital camera system (also used by the award-winning CineVegas entry "Easier With Practice"), Hardwick's pristine images take full advantage of that gorgeous Northern light.

Venue: CineVegas (Imagination Worldwide)