'Standoff': Film Review
Thomas Jane defends a young girl from a murderous Laurence Fishburne.
Two men occupy different floors of a remote old farmhouse in Standoff, Adam Alleca's two-hander starring Laurence Fishburne and Thomas Jane. In his first outing as director, Alleca strips the home-invasion format down dramatically after his screenwriting debut on 2009's Last House on the Left remake, and many moviegoers will find what's left a bit underwhelming. 3:10 to Yuma it's not, but the macho-a-macho pic has enough B-movie bristle to scrape up a few bucks on its way to the VOD attic.
Fishburne is Sade, a grimly effective hitman who's finishing up a job at a rural graveyard when he realizes a young girl (Ella Ballentine's Bird) has taken his picture from afar. He tracks her to the nearby home of Carter (Jane), but isn't able to eliminate the pre-teen witness before she convinces Carter to hide her while fending Sade off from the top of the stairs. As both men are wounded in the initial confrontation and neither has a clear shot, they're left to shout threatening things at each other from a distance while nursing their wounds.
As unlikely as it seems at the end of the first act, this is pretty much how things stand until the movie's end. Jane musters up his best Decent Man Beaten Down By Life — Carter lost a son in a freak accident; his marriage didn't survive the strain — while Fishburne tosses a heap of bluster onto Alleca's strenuously colorful dialogue, trying to scare his captive into surrendering. (Sade worries, for example, that if he were to let Bird live she'd identify him "as quick as a frog can lick flies.")
Lulls in the Sade/Carter banter allow for development of a protective emotional bond between the two hostages, but the film starts to lag as it veers into armchair psychoanalysis of the grieving father. Though it sometimes seems content to wait until one of these gun-totin' men falls asleep so the other can kill him, little subplots involving a rookie lawman and Carter's estranged wife do move the action along to some extent. No experienced moviegoer will waste too much time worrying that the bespectacled Bird might not survive the showdown, but as for which adult's testosterone will hold out the longest, there is some room for suspense.
Production companies: Goldrush Entertainment, Maple Leaf Films, First Point Entertainment
Distributor: Saban Films
Cast: Laurence Fishburne, Thomas Jane, Ella Ballentine
Director-Screenwriter: Adam Alleca
Producers: Eric Gozlan, Lee Gray, Tove Christensen, Michael Wexler
Executive producers: Bernard Bourret, Laurence Fishburne, Thomas Jane, William V. Bromiley, Ness Saban
Director of photography: Zoran Popovic
Production designer: Keith Bowser
Costume designer: Ton Pascal
Editor: Susan Maggi
Composer: Austin Wintory
Casting director: Stephanie Gorin