John Thomas, played by David Chokachi, is a father who is unemployed and is lured into smuggling jewels across the US/Mexican border with a promise to get the necessary help for his sick daughter, Lisa. Of course the plan goes amiss and John is left for dead. A trail of past memories and unanswered questions ensues as John tries to find meaning of his life in the desert.
With all the blatant stereotyped characters presenting themselves early in the movie, from the mobster father-in-law who can’t even hide a poker face, to the tattooed priest sporting an undercut nape hair style (where’s the 90’s style doc martens underneath his cloak?) trying to act godly yet creepy all at the same time, there is little effort made in exploring any depth of these characters.
There are so many problems with the movie, some are just down right laughable, which I will mention below in just point form, in case you actually want to sit through it and torture, I mean… see for yourself.
- The main character John Thomas lacks any emotion in his face in a majority of the movie. He says his lines as if he was reading off a teleprompter. As a former Baywatch star, when he’s not being shot at, his running skills aren’t that great either.
- Trapped in the desert, without any water (take note: 5 minute after being in the desert, one of the bad “Mexicans” comment that John and his companion should be dead already because they don’t have water). This is just plain-out bad writing.
- Both John and his traveler companion are shot at and hobbling along. They mention that they have to walk in the night time in order for no one to see them in daylight (which did not actually happen in the film). Continuing on, they say that it’s going to take a long time to even get close to getting out the desert alive. One scene later…oh look there’s a highway! (but John doesn’t see the highway). My head started to hurt at this point.
- The monologues that occur in parts of the film almost make you want to fall asleep. There is little inflection in the voice nor does the message spoken come across in any endearing or inspiring way.
- I don’t think they could have found a more obvious Italian restaurant front for the mob. (“Our garlic is seasoned with bread”) is shown over the sketchy front door.
The positive. I tried to muster up a few points, as there was very little enjoyment watching this movie.
Lisa, the daughter, played by Marialisa Caruso, had a few moments where you can tell that she was trying to play the role of a distraught teenager who self-medicates in order to cope with not knowing what is medically wrong with her. There was one scene where she is in the bathroom cutting off her hair with scissors in a frantic way, which looked promising, as you would hope she would finally shine through in her role. Sadly, she failed to deliver the full emotional impact that the scene, but still a good attempt.
Also, the wife, Anna, played by Yancy Butler was pleasant on-screen to watch. Although a small role, she still created a bit more of a dramatic tone to the movie and probably would have been more exciting to watch being stranded in the desert and fighting off the bad guys.
The shoot-em-up mixed with religiosity didn’t work for me at all. The internal conflicts that the main character wrestles with falls flat with little even to be understood. The message of God vs the Devil is blurred to a point where even possibly religious folk may be confused. Even looking at it through an artistic eye, the message is lost. Nothing is enlightening, nor is the reignited passion of faith that the movie attempts to shove down our throats with countless close ups of religious symbols and the mention once again of salvation.
If you are looking for a hidden gem to watch, keep on digging.