“The problem with wisdom, you get it after you need it, and it only helps with the next time. Then there’s hindsight, you see it in the rearview mirror and you can’t see it until you’ve driven past it. Wisdom and hindsight, they can’t help you with today, only tomorrow.”
Greg Francis takes us on a joyride in his newest film, Poker Night. It takes a stab, so to speak, in the lives of five current/former police officers. As they gather around the poker table with cigars and liquor the stories begin to pour forth. Even though some of these incidents took place many years prior, they still have the haunting memories to pass onto the young rookie in the game, Jeter (Beau Mirchoff from I Am Number Four). Jeter doesn’t realize that these stories will help him in more ways than one including saving his life. The supporting cast in the film was solid all around, consisting of Calabrese (Ron Perlman – Hellboy, Sons of Anarchy), Bernard (Giancarlo Esposito – Breaking Bad), Maxwell (Titus Welliver – Lost, Sons of Anarchy), Cunningham (Ron Eldard – Super 8) and Davis (Corey Large – The November Man) which really drew me to the film from the trailer. As a group they had the presence you would get out of a gritty cop thriller, with comedic undertones that keep the viewer interested throughout the film. The main killer has a residence that is disturbing from the get go, which included his master plan to “have sex with little girls, and kill anyone who gets in his way.” His presence was a mix between the Scarecrow from Batman and Jigsaw from the Saw franchise.
WARNING***MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD****
The cinematography was quite exemplary, from the flashbacks of all the cops to the eyes of the nine-to-five killer with his horrific mask intact. What really blew my mind with all of the past horrific experiences that the cops were describing was that they were envisioned and seen from Jeter’s point of view, as if he were reliving these experiences on his own. In a twisted game of life and learning how to overcome obstacles in order to put the “bad guy” away, Jeter takes these lessons and puts it toward good use. The child molesting slayer finds his way to the young rookie Jeter which lands himself in a dark, cellar-like room next to another victim, a beautiful young woman (Halston Sage).
The whole mid to final act is more of Jeter’s personal escape from the hands of the killer and getting the other woman held captive out of the prison. Blood is shed and they are continually tortured. They have little hope of survival. But where there is a will, there is a way. Jeter brings his A-game and is able to incorporate the lessons he has learned to go head to head with the killer, or so he thinks. As the audience is brought into the final scene of the film, we are brought back to the opening sequence of the film and get the true meaning of what Jeter was referring to in regards to wisdom and hindsight.
Poker Night was an all around entertaining and captivating cop thriller that kept my heart racing for the entire hour and forty minutes. I did notice some plot holes from Calabrese’s description of Jeter’s detective skills, i.e. many segments of the film show him more as a neglectful and careless police officer that lucked out with the biggest case of his career. I also wish there was more dialogue and presence from the supporting cast instead of the small tidbits in the film. The breakout performance was from the serial killer himself (Michael Eklund) who stole this movie embodying the character’s pedophilic nature and disgusting thirst for dead bodies. Overall, I enjoyed this film much more than I thought I would. Greg Francis directing was another honorable mention and I believe if he keeps perfecting his craft, he will be a larger household name in the years to come.
“To build your case, is to never give up”
Rated R for: Language, Violence, and Sexual Content.
Run time: 104 minutes
Starring: Beau Mirchoff, Ron Perlman, Giancarlo Esposito, Corey Large, Titus Welliver, Ron Eldard, Michael Eklund.
Director: Greg Francis
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 3/ Acting: 3 / Directing: 3/ Visuals: 3.5
OVERALL: 3 out of 5 Nerdskulls
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