Gutshot (aka Gutshot Straight), 2014.
Directed by Justin Steele
Starring George Eads, AnnaLynne McCord, Steven Seagal, Vinnie Jonnes, Ted Levine,Stephen Lang, Tia Carrere and Fiona Dourif.
A hard-up gambler gets in deep with the underworld when he takes up a bet from a wealthy gangster to pay off his loans.
Don’t be fooled by the poster art for Gutshot as this isn’t a Steven Seagal vehicle, despite his image being the most prominent. Neither is it a Vinnie Jones headliner, as his mug is also all over it, but both actors are part of an ensemble cast that includes Ted Levine (The Silence of the Lambs), George Eads (CSI: Crime Scene Investigtion), AnnaLynne McCord (Excision) and Stephen Lang (Tombstone) in a film that feels a little different in style for all involved, which isn’t a bad thing.
Jack (Eads) is a professional gambler who has run up a considerable amount of debt and is unable to support his wife and daughter. Fed up with living in cheap motel rooms, scraping a few dollars together in card games and taking beatings from gang enforcer Carl (Jones), who is chasing Jack for $10,000, he accepts an offer from flash stranger Duffy (Lang) to earn some serious cash. However, after a few drinks at a strip club and a few easy challenges from Duffy, Jack goes back to Duffy’s house and things take a turn for the worse when Duffy makes Jack a lucrative offer that Jack refuses, forcing the down-on-his-luck gambler to put his life on the line to protect his family.
The first thing that strikes you about Gutshot – apart from Steven Seagal’s ludicrous hair – is that stylistically it feels like one of those post-Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels gangter movies that seemed to be everywhere around the turn of the millennium, especially with the smooth jazz song that plays over the Bond-ish credits. But it doesn’t feel derogatory like a lot of those older films do as Gunshot finds its own feet fairly quickly as we find out why Jack has gone to Seagal’s loan shark Paulie, and why Paulie hands him a gun.
And while we’re learning about Jack and his lifestyle the film manages to keep your attention with a likeable performance from George Eads. Jack may not be the most dependable person in the world but behind the wide-boy image and cheeky banter is a heart of gold and Eads manages to sell us on Jack very easily and quickly, and once he meets up with Duffy the film steps up a gear and the heart of the story is revealed.
However, once the the pivotal moment occurs the film slows right down and begins to lag as the aftermath of Jack’s actions plays out. Ted Levine is introduced as Lewis, another part of the criminal gang Jack has crossed, and adds a little bit of off-kilter menace but the story seems to fall back on convention as Jack mooches around trying to figure out his next move. Even the late-in-the-game second appearance of Steven Seagal doesn’t do much to shift things along, his generic mob boss voice providing a little humour but whether that was intentional or not isn’t quite clear. Vinnie Jones is always better when he does his quiet intimidation act rather than shouting and swearing his way through any given scene and that’s what he does here, although if he wasn’t in the film at all it wouldn’t really make that much of a difference.
For the most part Gutshot is entertainning enough and having Steven Seagal and Vinnie Jones in supporting roles instead of being in the thick of the action was a wise move. Production-wise the film looks great with some slick and colourful visuals, the acting is pretty good and the story set-up is fantastic and really draws you in, but the final act really feels like a slog to get through, especially as the end result is fairly predictable and unremarkable. Nevertheless, if stylish crime thrillers are your thing then Gutshot isn’t the worst example you could invest 85 minutes of your life in.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★