06th Aug2018

Review Round-Up: ‘Traffik’ & ’211′

by Phil Wheat

traffik-211-dvd

TRAFFIK

Stars: Paula Patton, Omar Epps, William Fichtner, Missi Pyle, Luke Goss, Roselyn Sanchez, Dawn Olivieri, Laz Alonso, Claude Duhamel, Lorin McCraley | Written and Directed by Deon Taylor

Following her firing from her job at the Sacramento post, a romantic getaway is just what Brea and her boyfriend John need. But the trip, descends into terror when the pair run into a brutal biker gang. Luckily, they escape to a secluded mountain estate for the weekend, but their short-lived joy ends when the gang turn up at their front door demanding they give them what they want. Brea and John are forced into a deadly fight for their lives against a ring of criminals who will stop at nothing to protect their secrets.

On paper Traffik sounds like a cracking thriller reminiscent of the classic thrillers of the 90s – high concept, with a solid cast and a story that touches on real-world issues (in this case people trafficking). However the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Bar Omar Epps’s character John the rest of Traffik‘s cast of characters – including Paula Patton’s fired journalist – are unlikeble to the point I was wishing they’d get their comeuppance. Meanwhile the villains of the film are your typical biker stereotypes, including Luke Goss’ biker gang/people-trafficking leader. Goss can act the sh*t out of his roles, even in the worst DTV dross; but here he’s used a la every British actor playing a movie villain ever… in that he’s just a British accent so that makes him an intelligent bad guy, even if the script doesn’t back that up in any way, shape or form.

Oh, and that people-trafficking storyline? It’s used merely as a catalyst for the events that unfold against John and his girlfriend Brea NOT as a key part of this films tale! Though the fact that the kidnapped women ultimately end up being merely a story on which Patton’s Brea hangs a byline, getting her job at the paper back, is the real slap in the face for the part of Traffik that is apparently “based on true events.”

And rolling human trafficking statistics at the end of the film? This movie is pure exploitation of the subject and to try and justify your story with stats is just low, even by Hollywood’s standards.

211

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Sophie Skelton, Michael Rainey Jr., Dwayne Cameron, Weston Cage, Cory Hardrict, Ori Pfeffer, Mark Basnight, Amanda Cerny | Written and Directed by York Alec Shackleton

Mike Chandler (Cage) is a life-long veteran police officer ready to finally enjoy his retirement and a well-deserved pension. With his partner and son-in-law, rookie Steve at his side, and Kenny, a 15-year-old court-appointed ride-along reluctantly in tow, they set out on a routine patrol of the city’s streets. The two officers and their young civilian passenger soon find themselves underprepared and outgunned when fate puts them squarely into the crosshairs of a daring bank heist in progress by a fearless team of highly trained and heavily armed men.

It’s no secret that you have to be a certain kind of film fan to enjoy Nicolas Cage’s current output. Seemingly on a par with Bruce Willis, in that neither man can say no to ANY script that crosses their desk, Cage has appeared in some truly dire movies of late,. But there have also been some hidden gems… Which is why I keep watching each and every one of his films, be they cinematic releases a la Mom & Dad or direct to DVD fare like this particular film.

Decidely average, there’s nothing really memorable about 211 – it takes a while to get going (starting off in a foreign war zone didn’t help, despite providing some back story to proceedings) and it’s your standard cops vs criminals film that we’ve seen a million times before, so you’re not going to remember it even moments after its finished. But I never wanted to reach for the fast forward, or worse the off button. So that’s something.

211 stands for robbery in progress, and that’s what many will say this film is. A robbery of their time and money. But its not, I’ve seen a lot worse (a LOT worse) when it comes to DTV action flicks. Yes, this might not actually need Nicolas Cage’s particular set of “skills” but having a marquee name never hurt anyone did it? Plus Cage does get to rage at one point… and everyone needs to see that!

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