Big-budget action epics might be the current norm, but there’s something to be said for the slow burn. Enter Standoff, which delivers pretty much what its title advertises.
Bird (Ella Ballentine) is something of an obsessive photo bug (for reasons you can safely assume will be disclosed later). It’s a hobby with occasionally unfortunate side effects, such as accidentally taking photos of an assassin (Laurence Fishburne) as he interrupts a private funeral service with “extreme prejudice.” Before you can say “Léon,” she’s already fled to the isolated home of Carter (Thomas Jane), a burnt-out veteran dealing with the pre-credit death of his young son Sam and subsequent divorce from his wife, who was probably displeased that their child’s passing was an indirect result of dad’s laissez-faire approach to lawn maintenance.
Sade (apparently the actual name of Fishburne’s character) naturally pursues Bird, and after he and Carter are wounded in the initial exchange of gunfire, the pair enter an uneasy stalemate inside the house, with each man bleeding and trying to wait the other out. It’s less Home Alone, more My Mexican Standoff With Andre, as Carter — down to one last shotgun shell — and Sade maneuver for the advantage. Fishburne hasn’t played an out-and-out bad guy since 2005’s Assault on Precinct 13, and he’s obviously missed it.
Sade is a smooth operator (sorry), by turns cajoling, browbeating, and outright verbally abusing Carter into giving up Bird and the film. Opportunities to escape and turn the tables on the assassin are squandered by Carter, which we can chalk up to alcoholism trumping military training. Otherwise, Standoff holds up as a welcome alternative to its more strident brethren.
Directed by Adam Alleca
Saban Films/Voltage Pictures
Opens February 12, Cinema Village
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 9, 2016