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Hollow Point, The
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by Jay Seaver

"Not much to it."
2 stars

SCREENED AT MONSTER FEST 2016: Because I work a full-time job in addition to writing movie reviews, covering a festival can mean the final reviews trickle out a month or two later, as reliant on notes taken during or right after the screening as first impressions, and does that ever reveal disposable genre movies like "The Hollow Point" for the minor works that they are. It just doesn’t make much of a long-term impression, although maybe that’s better than seeing the movie’s name and groaning.

It takes place in a border town that was a popular place to smuggle guns ten years ago; now the locals are smuggling bullets so that the narcos can keep using the guns. A drop gone wrong has a couple of transporters getting samples of their cargo, but it also puts Sheriff Leland (Ian McShane) out of commission. His replacement, Wallace (Patrick Wilson), is a younger, by-the-book type who grew up there and seems to have rubbed all his old neighbors the wrong way, though he’s still cordial with his ex Marla (Lynn Collins). The trail he follows will lead through a sleazy used car dealer (Jim Belushi) and an efficient killer who likes to disguise himself as a police officer (John Leguizamo), but can he follow that trail to its end without becoming the same sort of rule-breaking cop his predecessor was?

It’s not a perfect barometer, but you can tell what sort of a video-on-demand-destined movie you’re looking at by considering the cast. The ones with complete nobodies will likely have to be good in spite of the lack of resources, and maybe only one or two people on the set really have the talent to make it interesting (not always the case, but more often than not). The ones with someone who used to be a big star, they’re often kind of bizarre - that guy is going to run roughshod over an inexperienced director, or joined up because he saw something unusual/interesting enough to get attention and maybe climb back to theaters. There are the folks who are super-famous within a certain niche, dependable in terms of delivering something specific. And then there are the ones like this, chock full of people like Patrick Wilson, John Leguizamo, Lynn Collins, and Ian McShane - the people who seem capable enough, and have been in movies people like, but never broke through to the point where they’re the reason anyone but a select few eccentric fans buys a ticket. They star in movies like The Hollow Point, professionals putting in a solid shoot’s work, making the movie watchable in that the folks gathered around the TV aren’t going to mock it but not getting a chance to elevate the script into something more interesting with their performance.

It’s respectable enough work, and will eventually be interesting in aggregate the way lesser films noirs make for an interesting snapshot of the 1950s now. There’s a decent story about the tension in towns like this, with people having a hard time supporting their business legitimately, disdaining the violence on the other side of the border while still feeding it and being shocked when it ultimately consumes them. There’s something to John Leguizamo’s killer disguised as a cop, a mix of distrusted authority and fear that the bad guys will infiltrate the world one considers safe. There’s a decent thread about coming back to your small town, which needs and distrusts the ambition that took you out of it, doubly so in the case of the girl he’s still got a thing for. Some of that’s reaching, sure, but it tends to feel right.

Unfortunately, this is all paired to a crime and action plot that is not just grim, but blandly so. Director Lopez-Gallego is skilled in depicting his violence, building tension into a confrontation before it explodes into ruthless, targeted action, but it’s never quite shocking in the way it could be or exhilarating; so much of the action is just bad guys taking each other out that it’s very hard for the viewer to get invested in the outcome, and the one moment before the climax that does raise eyebrows hobbles and twists the rest of the movie, forcing it to half-undo its setup.

That’s par for the course with these movies - ground-out stories of crime and corruption that keep decent actors working and tell their story well enough, but don’t wind up separating themselves from the pack, barely remembered as a movie that the viewer has seen even days later. There are truly bad crime movies along these lines, and while I wouldn’t recommend them, there’s something to be said for having something that gets hooks into an audience.

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originally posted: 02/05/17 04:51:03
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2016 Monster Fest For more in the 2016 Monster Fest series, click here.

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  16-Dec-2016 (R)
  DVD: 17-Jan-2017


  N/A (MA)

Directed by
  Gonzalo López-Gallego

Written by
  Nils Lyew

  Lynn Collins
  Patrick Wilson
  Ian McShane
  John Leguizamo
  Jim Belushi

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