"Die In A Gunfight is the epitome of style over substance."
DIE IN A GUNFIGHT (2021)
Genre-mashing is one of the latest trends being attempted by amateur and seasoned filmmakers alike. Making a horror film funny, or focusing on the dramatic mundanity of being a superhero - to successfully mix two opposite genres takes solid storytelling, intriguing characters and stylism that matches the tone of the tale. Die In A Gunfight is a crime-comedy-romance-action film that is the latest failed experiment of the aforementioned attempted genre-mashing. Even when it begins to draw you in with its more unique and abstract style, it pulls you right back out with unlikeable characters and a convoluted narrative structure that would be best described as a Jackson Pollock painting.
The first 10 minutes of Die In A Gunfight doesn’t necessarily set up amazing expectations for what’s to come, but it definitely had my attention. Director Collin Schiffli utilises a heightened Guy Ritchie-esque-mixed-with-Crank style of filmmaking to introduce our characters and the scenario that they’re in. Using a graphic novel animated prologue, freeze frames with characters names blasting onto the screen, rewind and slow motion shots breaking the fourth wall and split edits documenting two sides of an awkward encounter at a billionaire media companies ball all set a stylistic tone for this film. However, I immediately got the feeling that this may have been one of the first scenes filmed, and all of the crew's energy put into making this an electric opening because the rest of Die In A Gunfight feels incredibly lethargic after the opening scenes. The over-stylised nature of the directing and editing seem to fall to the wayside once the plot shifts gears into its romantic roots.
As I previously stated, Die In A Gunfight attempts to be a crime-drama about two warring media companies (named Gibbon and Rathcart respectively), with a rivalry dating back many generations. But, it also is trying to be an action-thriller when a hitman is hired to assassinate one of the heads of the media companies. However, for good measure, the film is truly about the messy romance between Ben (son of Gibbon, played by Diego Boneta) and Mary (daughter of Rathcart, played by Alexandra Daddario) who once were in love, then moved apart, now find themselves reconnected even though their love has been disapproved of by their conglomerate running father, and they wish to elope together… oh, and the hitman, Terrance (played by Justin Chatwin) is in love with Mary and proposes to her in the VIP room of a nightclub. Oh, and that’s where Ben meets Wayne (Travis Fimmel) and Barbie (Emmanuelle Chriqui), who are sexually energised psychopathic criminals who kind of go away for a bit, then become an integral part of the story after the halfway mark.
Are you confused? That’s pretty much how this story plays out on screen. This script is the bad kind of manic. No character is fully established to connect too, and no scenes play out long enough for the audience to get an idea of the tone this movie is trying to convey. It’s a whirlwind ride that relies too much on the idea that it’s crazy energy will be enough to keep the audience intrigued.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Unfortunately, this is one romantic tale in which it’s basically impossible to root for the antagonists. Both the characters of Ben and Mary make willingly dumb decisions in annoyingly frustrating ways that not even movie-logic can be used as a defence. For some reason, Ben loves getting into fist fights (over 700 in his life as the opening narration states), and he’s never won a single one. The script doesn’t really dive too deep into the psychology of this, which leaves me with one assumption… Ben is an idiot. I wish I could also say that the performances of Boneta and Daddario rectify some of the poor characterisations and dialogue, but there is such a lack of effort on their behalf that adds a dull tone over the film.
Justin Chatwin as Terrance may be the most unlikeable of the bunch, which works on some levels since he is the movie's villain. However, an infuriating non-descript accent and his silver-spoon attitude makes you question many times how this guy ever became a highly sought after hitman.
The icing on the cake for Die In A Gunfight is the incredibly strange character of Wayne and the equally odd performance given by Travis Fimmel. At many points I questioned the point of his role in the film and whether Fimmel just rocked up on set one day in his bright coloured T-shirt, Australian accent and Viking’s haircut and the producers and director just went with it. Still confused by this review? Good, you know how I felt watching this movie.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
The only praise I can give this movie is that the attempt at it’s Crank style of vivid colour and sharp editing had me intrigued initially. For most movies that have tried to replicate this style of filmmaking, it hasn’t always worked well, usually feeling more corny than cool. But, for the brief moments of Die In A Gunfight that commited to it’s frantic, energetic filmmaking, it juxtaposes the stupidity of the plot with a stylistic take that could’ve worked under better direction.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Some of the tracks on this soundtrack are pretty awesome and work with that style on show. It’s high-energy and loud soundtrack gives the visceral sense of chaos, and much like it’s visual style, works when it’s committed too fully.
Die In A Gunfight is the epitome of style over substance. But, when the style doesn’t consistently commit to it’s vivid, loud and bright nature for the entire runtime, it leaves a lot to be desired on an entertainment front. Alongside it’s unlikeable characters and completely disjointed story, this is a convoluted, lacklustre adventure that you can skip.