Die in a Gunfight

Year: 2021
Production Co: Align
Director: Collin Schiffli
Writer: Andrew Barrer/Gabriel Ferrari
Cast: Alexandra Daddario, Diego Boneta, Justin Chatwin, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Travis Fimmel, Billy Crudup

I only watched this movie because I'm such a fan of Alexandra Daddario, but even she couldn't save such a toneless mess.

It's ostensibly a crime drama with a Romeo and Juliet love story at the centre, but it has a complete lack of emotion and engagement, feels like all the real action happens elsewhere and director Collin Schiffli (obviously yet another comic book fan) thinks little animated clips of backstory makes it more interesting when all they do is confuse the issue more.

Benjamin (Diego Boneta, such a charisma vacuum they might as well had used the cinema standee of him instead) was in love with Mary (Daddario) when they were kids, their relationship impossible because they were from two longtime warring media empire families.

Mary's parents forbade her from seeing Benjamin, which made her an emotionally crippled shut-in and made Benjamin embrace a life of rebellion even more, renouncing his family's wealth and getting into any kind of trouble he can.

By some quirk of fate that was so inconsequential I don't even remember what it is, they reconnect and discover that they always loved each other and pined for the loss, he imagining she never cared about his many letters, her not knowing he sent them and assuming he'd given up on her.

Everything else that happens feels both like padding from a much larger story and completely disposable – I'd forgotten almost all of it by the next day. It involves a slimy corporate fixer who's always been in love with Mary (Justin Chatwin) and somehow emerges as the lead villain, a crass but principled Australian hitman (Travis Fimmell) and his bimbo girlfriend (Emmanuelle Chriqui), Benjamin's best friend and a real lot of happenstance that explains nothing and goes nowhere.

But even while the story is a chum bucket of scraps from much bigger and better-told tales, the movie doesn't know what tone it's going for either. It's not that it veers between crime caper, love story, thriller, etc – it starts out as none of those (or anything recognisable from any other genre) and manages to avoid asserting any kind of cinematic personality at all.

It tries way too hard to be slick and cool, but it's an hour and a half that feels like forever.

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