Directed by R. Ellis Frazier.
Starring Gary Daniels, Michael Greco, Vannessa Vasquez, Luis Gatica, Geoffrey Ross and Patricia Peinado Cruz.
Hardened DEA agent, Cole, descends into the dangerous underworld of Tijuana, Mexico in search of his journalist ex-wife who he believes has been abducted by a charismatic Cartel boss with aspirations for public office.
Action man Gary Daniels has seen something of a career resurgence in the last few years, following his appearance in The Expendables. During the 90’s he was a regular headliner in straight to video action films before the turn of the millennium saw roles, and predominantly leading ones, dry up a little. In recent years though he’s found himself leading the line again in films such as Forced to Fight, Misfire and the upcoming films Skin Traffik and Rumble. The demand for straight to DVD action remains pretty strong, even if the budgets are even more anaemic than they were 10-15 years ago.
Misfire sees Daniels as DEA Agent Cole, currently on suspension following an assignment gone wrong. Cole’s brother Johnny (former Eastender, Michael Greco who appears to have spent his post Albert Square days in the Gym) wakes one morning following a drunken argument with his wife (Cole’s ex-wife). There’s no trace of his wife, only some blood marks left around the house. He finds himself framed for the murder of his wife, though no body is found. Johnny can only turn to Cole, desperate for help to clear his name and find out what happened to Sarah. Cole heads to Tijuana to investigate, uncovering a plot involving a hardened gangster with political aspirations which Sarah (a reporter) was about to uncover. Cole reluctantly teams with Sarah’s friend and photographer, Gracie (Vannessa Vasquez).
Director R. Ellis Frazier opts for a Bourne style aesthetic with plenty of hand-held work, whilst retaining a cinematic look. The film looks very good with nice cinematography, shot nicely in wide-screen. In addition, where some films in the straight to DVD arena tend to avoid looking beyond the surface, Frazier wants to look into Daniels character a bit more. We don’t have everything spelled out in dialogue, and Cole is a man of few words, but we still get some character. Some films tend to focus all characterisation on what comes out of a characters mouth, particularly in this genre. To Frazier’s (and script writer Benjamin Budd) credit, he doesn’t fall into this trap. He allows scenes to play out and edit to reactions as much as spoken dialogue.
Daniels has come a long way as an actor throughout his career. Particularly so in this mini-revival of the last five years. He’s worked hard on his internal projections and Misfire features one of his strongest performances. Greco offers solid support in his brief role, while Vannessa Vasquez despite her relative inexperience, does a fine job. Luis Gatica makes for an interesting but underutilized villain.
There’s some decent action here. For die-hard Daniels aficionados, this isn’t a balls to the wall action fest that he’s become known for. It’s not loaded with fights and high-octane stunts like PM classics such as Riot and Rage for example, but that said there are still a handful of solid fight sequences which opt for a grounded approach, as well as a handful of gunfights. The sound design could have been given more attention, but that’s a common oversight with low budget action films and where the desire by the men with the wallets to keep costs down comes into play. A couple of foot-chases lack punch though, where some quality sound design may have enlivened them. Point Break for example, with its infamous foot chase has great sound work where the pounding footsteps almost become park of the score. Like much of this film though there is a constant push and pull between the attempts to make it look cinematic and the limited budget, but at least the will was there. That’s more than can be said of most of the recent Steven Seagal films which feel half heartedly churned out.
Misfire is a solid action thriller that’s better than the norm for this sort of film. Frazier and Daniels manage to push it beyond the meagre budget and make something both can look back on with some pride. It just needed an injection of energy in the middle and some more financial support in production and post. Frazier and Daniels (who had already worked together a couple of times) will also re-team for Rumble which promises to deliver more action on top of hopefully some meaty characterisation for Daniels.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★