Year Released: 2014
Running time: 1h 28m
Director: R. Ellis Frazier
Writer(s): Benjamin Budd, R. Ellis Frazier
Production: Badhouse Studios Mexico, Full Throttle Pictures, Hannibal Pictures
Ok so since this is my first review I expect it to take some time for me to get into a “groove” or whatever. Bear with me as I work out the kinks.
If I could sum up Misfire in one phrase it would be, “what the fuck is going on?” I recall saying it multiple times on my way through the meandering plot and by the end of the film I had a headache. Things happen seemingly at random, characters appear in one scene and then are never seen again, “important” plot points are barely mentioned.
If you were to say to me, “Ira, describe the story of Misfire to me,” this is what I would say. Misfire is the story of Cole, a DEA agent put on administrative leave for shooting an undercover Mexican officer, who becomes involved in a family’s drug war after his ex-wife (Sarah) is kidnapped and his brother (Johnny) framed for her disappearance. The ex-wife is kidnapped because she is in possession of drug money stolen by an informant she was using as a source to investigate a news article that she was writing.
This is something that I’ve only been able to piece together after multiple viewings.
We have two plotlines in this film. (1) The redemption of Cole after a botched investigation and (2) uncovering the mystery of Sarah’s kidnapping. Both of these plotlines, in generic terms, would make a solid film. But in Misfire’s case neither of these plotlines make any goddamn sense.
The film starts with Cole chasing and shooting a fellow officer but they don’t show the aftermath. If his badge was taken away and he was suspended, then you’ve got to show that. The only reference to Cole’s suspension in the first half of the film is him suggesting that he took a vacation. Cole’s ex-partner (I think) Dale is the only one who mentions “suspension,” he mentions it once and that’s it. Dale immediately suggests that Cole takes down a drug warehouse as a vigilante because it would help him get his job back. Don’t think about that one too hard.
Likewise, you’re thrown into the kidnapping without any real idea of what’s going on. There is literally NO setup, no reason to care about Sarah or Johnny other than their cursory relation to Cole. At least give me a scene at the beginning where Sarah meets with the informant, set up that she’s a reporter and that she is given this drug money. The only way you know that any of these things happened is through bits and pieces of conversations. Which, in a normal mystery thriller would work, but you have to set up the mystery first!
Speaking of the drug money. This little plot device is so barely mentioned that by the end of the film when Cole finally finds it I had completely forgotten it existed. Cole gives the money to Dale even though I am pretty sure Dale didn’t even know the money existed. Keep that shit for yourself Cole.
There’s Gracie the love interest. Gracie does nothing in this movie except exist as a platform for light exposition, a shower scene, and a backseat make-out session with Cole. At the end of the film Gracie is sent off with Sarah, essentially into the sunset.
The antagonists don’t really do anything at all. They are given motivation but they don’t do anything with it. Raul MONTENEGRO is the father, a drug money middleman who wants to take his family legit. Raul is running for mayor but you never see any scenes about it, it’s only mentioned a few times. In fact, there’s a scene towards the middle of the film where Raul casually talks with an accountant about election finance fraud, insists that he wants to take his family legit, and then murders the accountant guy…in his own house…while he’s running for mayor…
Carlos MONTENEGRO is the son; he wants to take over the father’s drug business because Raul is “going legit.” Sarah stole the drug money from Carlos and so Carlos kidnapped Sarah to get the money back (I think). There’s no interrogation between Sarah and anyone questioning where the money is. It seems that no one cares about the money.
The culmination of the movie is a trade between Cole and Raul. Cole has captured Carlos, Raul ONLY son, and wants to trade for Sarah. Raul mentions the drug money (hey finally!) but gives up on getting it back after a few seconds. Raul doesn’t even go to the trade himself, instead he sends his “main” henchman. Raul is never seen again.
I fully believe, based on the characters, that if the trade had succeeded that would have been the end of the film. But, you can’t end an action film with a simple hostage trade. No, instead Carlos grabs Sarah and a chase ensues! Out of all of the moments in the film this has to be my favorite. It’s your generic chase through a city, Cole defeats the “main” henchman, kills Carlos, and gets the girl. However, at the very climax, where Carlos and Cole are pointing guns at each other on a busy sidewalk, a cab rolls into frame behind them. The cabbie looks at the scene where a gun is pointed DIRECTLY AT HIS LOCATION BEHIND CARLOS and just turns back to face the street. “Oh a gun battle where I might get shot in the crossfire? No biggie…I’m just going to sit in traffic right here…in the crossfire.”
· Cole doing a barrel roll over a small box of produce instead of jumping over it like a normal person.
· Cole and Johnny both shirtless in unbuttoned jeans as fan service to all the ladies.
· A black screen with superimposed “LOS ANGELES” right before a scene in Tijuana. (and I mean, immediately…there is no Los Angeles scene.)
· The totally calm accountant dude who is obviously just trying to do his job while Raul peppers him with an insane rant about being a hero.
· Gracie offering to warm up Cole’s coffee but jumbling the line so bad I had to watch it at least five times to understand what she was trying to say.
· The glorious acting of Cole as he tries to emote in the interrogation room with Johnny.
· Anytime there was a slow motion scene. I’m looking at you “grenade explosion hop-away” scene.
· The two mercenaries who bail on Cole as soon as they get back from a botched op. “We should split up (…because you suck.)”
· Anytime one of Cole’s compatriots asks what the deal with Gracie is and Cole goes, “She’s cool.” Dude, you don’t know she’s cool, she could be playing the long con (she isn’t but it would have made for a better movie.)
· The scene with Johnny and the maid.
· Johnny’s awful ketchup stains that were supposed to be scratch marks.
· Johnny casually investigating the small amount of blood all over his house. You think he’d be a bit more concerned.
· Any time a gun was fired at someone who should have obviously been hit but isn’t.
· The very last scene where Cole is in a red jacket (because it’s so cool) and the writer is obviously trying to set up a sequel.
Overall production quality was good aside from a few hiccups. The Los Angeles thing, Gracie’s botched line, a few times where the lighting changed enough to notice. The acting was decent for the kind of actors they got. It was obvious in a few spots that they got extras to fill in some speaking roles.
The one scene where I fully expected to see a reflection of the camera, Gracie and Cole talking with sunglasses on, didn’t have any camera reflection…so kudos.
The more I watched this movie the more I liked it, which I thought was odd until I realized that there is nothing wrong with the movie except for how they explain the plot. I think a few more drafts of the script would have turned this from a two-star film into a three-and-a-half-star film. Nothing really stands out and I can’t recommend you watch this film because I was so bored by the end of it. The silly stuff that happens doesn’t take it to “so bad it’s good” territory and I can’t imagine anyone caring about any of the characters.