17th Aug2021

‘Die in a Gunfight’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Diego Boneta, Alexandra Daddario, Wade Allain-Marcus, Justin Chatwin, Travis Fimmel, Emmanuelle Chriqui | Written by Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari | Directed by Collin Schiffli

Mary (Alexandra Daddario) and Ben (Diego Boneta) are the star-crossed black sheep of two powerful families engaged in a centuries-long feud – and they’re about to reignite an affair after many years apart. Their forbidden love triggers the dominoes that will draw in Mukul (Wade Allain-Marcus), Ben’s best friend, who owes him a life debt; Terrence (Justin Chatwin), Mary’s would-be protector-turned-stalker; Wayne (Travis Fimmel), an Aussie hitman with an open mind and a code of ethics; and his free-spirited girlfriend, Barbie (Emmanuelle Chriqui)…

There’s a particular style of filmmaking that resonates with me – the use of film noir and pulpy detective movie tropes in modern films. I don’t know why but the dichotomy of those older tropes combined with modern storytelling, especially quirky comedy, really appeals to me. And when that style is used well – typically in modern heist movies – you can pretty much guarantee you’ll have me as a fan for life. Case in point, films like Flytrap, How to Rob a Bank and The Maiden Heist. Films that all successfully balance quirky, offbeat comedy with noir-ish tropes, in particular the concept of a cool and charismatic cast. And now comes Die in a Gunfight

Director Collin Schiffli departs from his usual angsty, drama-driven films to craft a Tarantino-esque take on the Shakespeare classic Romeo and Juliet. I say Tarantino-esque as that’s an easy shorthand way to describe how the film is crafted and how the characters behave but Die in a Gunfight is so much more than a Tarantino knock-off/wannabe. Stylistically I’d say this film has more in common with the 90s action classic Drive and True Romance, which was a Tarantino script but directed by the more kinectically-inclined Tony Scott… In fact, in terms of visual style and action set pieces, Die in a Gunfight is probably more inspired by Tony Scott than Quentin Tarantino.

With a brilliant voiceover (from actor Billy Crudup) that sets the tone for the film, Die in a Gunfight is filled with the kind of over the top storytelling gimmicks that would suggest ANY film of this style is made for the ADD inclined. But here the mix of animation, quick cuts, freeze frames, title cards, etc., all work to create a hyper-real world in which our hero Ben (Diego Boneta) resides. How else but in some kind of hyper-reality can one man take the kinds of beatings Ben does and come out the other side with only few scrapes, bumps and bruise?!

Yet for all the hyper-realism, Die in a Gunfight is still grounded in OUR reality thanks to the two central performances from Diego Boneta and Alexandra Daddario, as Ben and Mary respectively. The pair bring a real sense of emotion and human connection to a film that feels, at times, almost videogame-like; and Boneta makes for a fantastic free-spirited, take no prisoners, doesn’t give a sh*t, protagonist – I could watch him play Ben all day. Seriously. If those two are the dramatic side of the story, Travis Fimmel – as Wayne, a guy Ben meets in a club who’s later hired to kill him – brings the humour (and even some heart); in a role that is, for me, one of his best.

Inspired by Tony Scott, Quentin Tarantino and even (to some extent) Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet, Die in a Gunfight is a direct-to-market gem and one that, I guarantee, will be one of my go-to films in future.

***** 5/5

Die in a Gunfight is available on digital now.


Comments are closed.