“You owe…you pay.” That is the motto our hero John Falcon (Nick Principe) finds himself living by after doing 10 years of hard time. When he finds himself out, he is on a one man mission to collect his marker from everyone responsible for his shitty fate. That gang is spearheaded by..wait for it…his own brother Sam (Todd Farmer). Add these elements and you give fans of the genre something to get emotionally invested in if the team knows what they are doing, and I’m pleased to let you know they nailed it.
A love letter to “exploitation” cinema this opus has all the ingredients you’re looking for in beautiful cars, beautiful women, and beautiful bullets. Director Ravi Dhar gave us an aesthetically pleasing film showing us some beautifully set up shots in first half of this bad boy, there was just something about following Flacon’s shadow spreading across a lonely road during the opening credits that captures what this characters journey is all about. Also while I’m at it, kudos to the team for a beautifully lit flashback scene in a bowling alley. When I tap a movie like this I know what I want, a lot of sex and at least an hour and a half worth of a disgruntled man/woman fucking shit up, and if you see a film that knows what it is it’s hard not to enjoy the ride. But are all these classic tropes all this film has going for it? No, I’ll tell you where this film hooked me.
“I’ve spent the last ten years chasing a memory, and I’m tired.”
Screenwriter for the film John Fallon, who also has a short but sweet role as ‘Tongues’ in the film, crafted a story with some deep undertones in my opinion. Sure, Falcon is driven by revenge for the people responsible for his life going to shit, but he is also driven by love for his wife Darling (Robin Sydney). This gives necessary humanity to Falcon’s bravado and life full of bad choices. Their love story is told through several flashback scenes to tender moments away from their hectic lives, and was contrasted by Darling’s spiral into drugs, spurred on by Falcon’s brother and now adversary Sam.
To get deep on you I’ve known people like Darling, who get pulled in to drugs and lose sight of who they are and what they feel. Knowing this, it left me hoping the whole time on this ride that things would turn out alright for a woman who made the wrong choices and a man whose genuine love her was not up for debate. I don’t want to give anything away too specifically, so I’ll just say by the end when the excrement hit the cooling device I was left holding onto the idea, seeing the relationship unfold before my eyes, that everything was still not as it seemed.
There is something emotionally hard hitting, in a film filled with serviceable violence and frantic fucking, about a story of a man who is “living with a memory” who finds himself unable to deal with the way things really are. It won’t be everyone’s bag of tea, but if you watch a movie like this it’s because you want what this film definitely delivers, and it does an admirable job in offering up something a bit more in my opinion. A crip looking film that sets up an atmosphere? Check! Delivering what it promised in plenty of blood and plenty of babes? Check! A hero to root for? Check! A script that gives us a story to keep invested in? Check! Any fan of the genre would be doing themselves a flavor by giving this testosterone filled romp a chance! Everybody owed in this film…and they definitely paid.
Rating: 10 Shots of Jack Daniels
Review by: Paul Huffman
You can purchase American Muscle here