And not just because his 110-minute film was shot in and around Fort Worth and stars two Fort Worth natives, Matt Tompkins and Julio Cedillo. Tompkins plays Steven Down, a twentysomething suffering from a severe case of survivor guilt. At the beginning of the movie, we see him sitting alone in a drab hotel room in 1993, having flashbacks to an incident that occurred six years earlier in Nicaragua. As he, his girlfriend, and several villagers were farming, a group of camouflaged soldiers raided the area and massacred everyone except Down. The gun-toting heavy (Cedillo) captures Down and interrogates/tortures him for days.
Accounting for about the first 25 minutes of the film, these scenes are craftily edited and performed. An industrial-music soundtrack perfectly parallels the film’s frantic heartbeat, and Tompkins has the look of an unstoppable hero. A hairdresser in the film tells him he looks “like Henry Rollins, post-Black Flag,” and she’s right. He could totally handle a lead role in any major Hollywood testosterone-fueled throwdown.
By the movie’s midpoint, however, the story starts to unravel. Back in Central America, we discover, Down isn’t just some innocent do-gooder: He’s actually a U.S. government mole. We also learn that Cedillo’s character isn’t just some fascist commie goon. He’s an Israeli operative named Oscar Perez, the same Oscar Perez who runs a security consulting firm called the Maya Corporation, the same firm to which we later see an older Down applying for a job. The ins and outs of the relationship between the two men are hard to follow, and the tiny sub-plots do nothing but slow down the initially brisk pace.
Calhoun definitely has talent, and with a little help in the editing room, he could be a force.
Starring Matt Tompkins, Julio Cedillo, and Burton Gilliam. Written by Steve Mahone and Blake Calhoun. Directed by Blake Calhoun. Not Rated.