Monday, August 11, 2008
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Val Kilmer, Harold Perrineau, Marisol Nichols, Sam Shepard
Distributor: Sony Pictures Entertainment
MPAA: Rated R
Felon was released late last month with a limited theatrical run. Its a low budget film that hardly anyone knew about. I have been waiting to review this film for quite some time now. My friend had seen the movie before me and warned me of how bad the film really was. This interested me because I enjoy reviewing movies that others tend to hate. Its not because of joy, but rather my own feeling for the movie. Most people feel different about movies and some tend to like what others tend to hate. That and I generally like Val Kilmer as an actor.
Wade Porter (Stephen Dorff) suddenly loses everything when he accidentally kills the burglar who broke into his home. Convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Wade is sentenced to spend the next three years inside a maximum security facility where the rules of society no longer apply. Forced to share a cell with a notorious mass murderer named John Smith (Val Kilmer) and subjected to brutal beatings orchestrated by the sadistic head prison guard known as Lt. Jackson (Harold Perrineau), Wade soon realizes he's in for the fight of his life and must become the toughest of them to survive.
The story of Felon is loosely based on true events that happened in the Corcoran State Prison. The movie doesn't do a whole lot that makes it different from other films that have the same premise. I have seen many films like this in the past. This necessarily isn't a bad thing since the movie as a whole is pretty good. The plot is simple and pretty straight forward. A man kills someone on accident and is sent to prison. The movie tends to get interesting and exciting after each scene. The many fights and punishments we see while the main character is in prison, is pretty cool. I wasn't too found of director Ric Roman Waugh's shooting habits. Every shot seems wobbly and unstable. The camera moves more here than in any of the Bourne films. I'm sure it was the directors intention to make it more realistic, but it doesn't really work and gets annoying after awhile. Their is the occasional character development that is somewhat missing mostly in the character that Kilmer plays. Even with all this said, Felon is still a suspenseful entertaining movie.
Stephen Dorff plays as Wade Porter and he gives a good performance that I found to be his most impressive one. I haven't seen most of Dorff's films, but hes very good here. I found his performance of an ordinary man being sent to prison to be believable. Val Kilmer plays as John Smith and he too gives a good performance. Ill admit that I wasn't too impressed with his work at the start of the film, but as the movie progressed so did his performance. Harold Perrineau plays as Lt. Jackson and he gives an OK performance. The last time I saw him in a movie was in The Matrix sequels, but he gives a much better performance here compared to those films. I still think someone else could have played the part of a badass prison captain alittle better. We also have Marisol Nichols playing as Laura Porter. Now, I haven't really seen her in any other movies, but I think she does a fine job here. Nothing special, but better than average.
The visual look for Felon is somewhat of a mixed bag. The movie is relatively new and yet, it has alot of film grain. I think this was part of the directors intention to make the film look gritty, but it still happens to get in the way. Colors seem muted and somewhat pale. They aren't as vibrant and colorful as I would have hoped for. Blacks are generally strong and some of the darker scenes look great. Skin tones are pretty spot on and accurate. Detail is surprisingly great for a low budget film like this. You cant really tell when the characters are far away, but close up shots reveal alot of detail and clarity.
The soundtrack for the film is also pretty good. The film has a good score by composer Gerhard Daum. It goes well with the films story and atmosphere. Besides that, their isn't a whole lot of music in Felon which shouldn't come off as a surprise considering its a prison movie. The movie doesn't offer a whole lot in the bass department either. Since their isn't much action going on besides the prison fights, the bass isn't much needed. I mean what we have here is perfectly fine for a low budget film like this, but just don't expect it to be demo worthy.
Felon is an interesting movie that doesn't offer us anything we haven't seen in the past, but so what. The story is pretty entertaining despite the directors wobbly camera direction. The cast is mostly good with most of them giving out good performances that I personally enjoyed. The visual look of the film is generally grainy, but has a good amount of detail on the character's faces. The soundtrack works and matches the gritty, yet lonely atmosphere of the film. I enjoyed Felon and can recommend this to those seeking a good prison movie because its worth checking out.