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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Transit

Directed by: Antonio Negret

Produced by: Joel Silver
Courtney Solomon
Moshe Diamant

Screenplay by: Michael Gilvary

Starring: Jim Caviezel
James Frain
Diora Baird
Elisabeth Rohm
Harold Perrineau
Ryan Donowho
Sterling Knight

Music by: Christopher Westlake

Cinematography by: Yaron Levy

Editing by: William Yeh
Joe Binford Jr.

Distributed by: After Dark Films

Release date(s): April 20, 2012 (United Kingdom)
May 11, 2012 (United States - limited release)

Running time: 91 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $5 million

Box office revenue: (Unavailable)

Ahoy there folks, I told you I had got my mojo back! Right so, I've done my review for the month of September, and Dredd came out on top, an extraordinarily cerebral experience, and it's a damn shame that it tanked at the American box office. Anywho, I'm proceeding forth into the month of October, and I can tell you that I have seen not only this, but also ParaNorman and Mercenaries already, and there will be plenty more on the way, so, as ever, keep your eyes posted!

Okay, so today's film is Transit, another production made in collaboration with executive producer Joel Silver and After Dark Films under the After Dark Action label, the second I've seen in as many months, along with Dragon Eyes. Like that film, I found this while scouring the bargain bins of Tesco, gabbing on the phone to a reliable source as to the film's release date. After fitting my criteria, I decided to purchase Transit, and lo and behold, a few days later, it was ripe for reviewing. Plot synopsis is simple: an armoured truck is subject to a heist by masked robbers, who take four million dollars from the vehicle, killing all potential witnesses. Police catch wind of their trigger-happy antics, and knowing they fit the profile on the police description reports, they decide to hide the money in the sleeping bag of a family who are on a camping trip, so they can cross the border without garnering suspicion, and catch up with them at a later point. End of!

To start with the good about Transit, I must flag up the performance of Jim Caviezel, who plays Nate, the father of the family. Having to deal with a lot of different aspects of his character's personality, Caviezel anchors the film with a relevant amount of complexity and never going into the amateur dramatics. He plays it as a subtle straight man who, despite the film's tone, is ultimately vulnerable, and this vulnerability is what separates it from the rest of the pack. Tonally, as I suppose is to be expected with After Dark, it is more or less of the B-movie/exploitation film aesthetic. As far as the script's structure, it is straight-up and no-nonsense, but despite the tone, you do feel a strong level of tension, in that these characters are all human and vulnerable. They accumulate injuries that play a part in dictating the course of the film, and I have to admire how it pays attention to little details like that. It means that the simple central concept, which is akin to something like Steven Spielberg's Duel, never runs dry. It's ninety minutes tops, and as a result stays pretty lean. Also, despite being a low-budget affair, it stays creative and thinks around any potential issues, and as such, technically it also works well. It's a solidly shot and edited film, and certainly in terms of bottom-of-the-barrel direct-to-DVD films, it's pretty damn good. In fact, Transit is a way more intense, better action movie than much of what we get stinking up the theatres. Not only that, it does have that engaging, popcorn/grindhouse feeling, and actually reminded me of Wes Craven's Last House On The Left. Finally, kudos to director Antonio Negret for keeping control over the proceedings. This really could have been a complete shitstorm of a film, but because Negret is able to reign himself in, despite this being more or less an exploitation film, I found myself enjoying it a good bit.

I did enjoy Transit, but it is not a flawless film, and contains a number of issues that deny it from being great. Look, I'll just get the music out of the way, surprise surprise, I didn't like it. I'm just gonna say that I didn't like it because it was too predictable and dictated the mood of the film too much, when I would have went with it anyway. I know I'm like a broken record on this subject, and I'm sick of yammering on about it myself, but goddammit, I know if I don't like music! Please, readers, do understand my hypersensitive hearing is as much a curse as it is a superpower! (At this point I left the laptop and cried to myself for a few hours) Anyway, excusing the degradation of my emotional state, there are other issues with Transit. The script, when it abides by structure, is good, but any time it tries to go under the surface of it's characters, it flounders and reveals itself (and them) to be mere charicatures and steeped in cliche. If you leave the audience to their own devices, they'll develop their own ideas, and I think it was a big mistake to tell us everything, particularly in the nature of the antagonists and Nate's secrets. Finally, although I know this is nitpicking, at times the film's editing, in correlation with special effects, stands out like a red flag and highlights, instead of hides, their flaws.

Notwithstanding these niggling issues in the character development department, some dodgy effects shots and a troublesome score, Transit is a good movie. Jim Caviezel is a strong lead, and tonally it is an interesting mixture of B-movie/exploitation-flick and a realist action film. It's technically solid, and when the script decides it is sticking to task, it's structure is pretty good. Finally, I think director Antonio Negret certainly shows promise, at least in the action genre. He's working with Karl Urban on his next film, so here's hoping things go well for them! Transit is a solid, tense chase movie that stands out from the pack.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 6.7/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Meh! (Too much Uni work to care about doing! I hate the disproportionate distribution of marks per year in Uni! Sixty-per-cent in my final year? Get tae ahem!)

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