Out Of Death

***

Reviewed by: Jane Fae

Out Of Death
"Jaime King is great as much put-upon innocent, gritted teeth, reluctant heroine."

I guess anyone who enjoys action thrillers has already seen Out Of Death at least a dozen times over.

It is, after all, every American’s worst nightmare. You just happen to be out hiking a trail in some conveniently out of the way location – if the banjo accompaniment is anything to go by, this might well be Deliverance territory – when you stumble across some bad people doing bad things.

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In this case, the lone hiker is a young woman and photojournalist by name of Shannon, out hiking on some spiritual voyage of reconnection to her deceased father. Also, to scatter his ashes. The baddies? Well, they just happen to be pretty much the entirety of the local police department under the leadership of corrupt sheriff Hank Rivers (Michael Sirow).

One of their number, Billie Jean (Lala Kent), is out to conclude a drug deal with a fairly obvious ne’erdowell. You can tell he’s ne’er done well by the fact he sweats a lot, has tats, and is snorting a fine white powder that is probably not sherbet. The deal goes wrong. Bad guy ends up with a bullet in the back of his head.

But what is this? Shannon just happens to happen by at the moment of truth. Not only this, but she comes with high powered camera in hand. And Shannon does what any sensible citizen would do in such circumstances, which is fire off a load of frames, literally at point of murder. Ooops!

Billie hears a noise and sets off in pursuit with fellow officer Tommy (Tyler Jon Olson). The couple of corrupt cops catch up with Shannon. The stage is set for extra-judicial execution when who should blunder into the scene, but ex-cop and grieving, recently widowed Jack (Bruce Willis).

Yay! Cue shooting and fighting and all the rest of your average action film paraphernalia! Sadly, you’ll have a long wait for that.

This is not Die Hard. Nor even Red, Willis’s nod to getting older, while still improbably kicking the collective arses of a cast decades younger than him. No. This is a much lower key production in which Willis is mostly out-played by the woods of the Georgia outback. Insofar as he has a purpose here, it is more guest appearance than centre stage: a very calculated effort to drum up interest.

Because, let’s face it: Jaime King is not bad at all at what she does here. But given a choice between an action movie starring Ms King, and one in which she and the stellar Bruce get double top billing on the cover of the DVD, which are you going to opt for? He is onscreen little, and when he is, he is playing very much against type.

Perhaps this will suffice for some of his fans. I felt it was something of a cheat, made that much more blatant by the fact that the film opens by giving away almost all of the exciting Willis bits and then doubling back with a caption reading 'Earlier that day…'

As roles go, this one does him few favours. He plays a less than heroic has-been; and a combination of washed out lighting and ageing make-up suggests a character some years older than the 66 years that he has clocked up in real life. This is mostly a film about Shannon stumbling onto badness and, through struggling against adversity – well, at least running up and down some forest tracks and wrestling in the mud with one “good ole boy” deputy – eventually finding herself.

Overall, this is more psycho drama than action movie, with centre stage Shannon’s desperate need to feel dead dad’s approval by proving she’s not a quitter. As such, it delivers what it delivers well.

Michael Sirow makes a fine unprincipled villain: you just gotta hate him. Jaime King is great as much put-upon innocent, gritted teeth, reluctant heroine.

It is a slight but competent film of its type. My main beef with it is its exaggerated claims in the Willis department. Perhaps there should be a law about that sort of thing.

Reviewed on: 30 Jul 2021
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Out Of Death packshot
A corrupt Sheriff's department in a rural mountain town comes undone when an unintended witness throws a wrench into its shady operations.

Director: Mike Burns

Writer: Bill Lawrence

Starring: Jaime King, Bruce Willis, Lala Kent, Kelly Greyson, Michael Sirow

Year: 2021

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: US

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