I have liked Devon Sawa for quite some time. Admittedly I did not keep up with him over the years, but I thoroughly enjoyed his roles in Idle Hands, Final Destination, and even as Stan in the Eminem video for the song of the same name. When I had the opportunity to review Disturbing the Peace, I was originally drawn to it because I really like Guy Pearce. Unfortunately for Guy, I noticed Sawa in the credits as well so my curiosity turned away from the Brit and towards the Canuck.
I am not familiar with either the director York Alec Shackleton or the writer Chuck Hustmyre but I figured with two leading stars like Sawa and Pearce why not give the film a go. On the positive, the acting was great. As much as I liked Sawa in his younger days, I was very impressed with his maturity and the heft he gave to an otherwise stereotypical bad guy biker gang leader named Diablo. And what can I say about Guy Pearce? This dude is way underrated. His versatility is amazing. He’s fantastic as Ed Exley in L.A. Confidential, fun to watch as Alexander Hartdegen in The Time Machine, incredibly flawed and realistic as disinterested King Edward VIII in The King’s Speech, a worthy adversary to Tony Stark in Iron Man 3, and of course one of the best screen queens as Felicia in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. In short, if Guy Pearce is in it, I’ll be watching.
Unfortunately my accolades for Sawa and Pearce simply magnify some of the problems with the movie. The story falls back on a lot of cliches and felt trite several times throughout. The direction, cinematography, and action sequences are pretty solid, but it’s hard to get past some of the awkwardness felt during some of the forced emotional set-ups that are utilized to advance the story. Case in point, the opening scene. Pearce’s Texas Ranger character Jim Dillon and his partner chase a bad guy. His partner is taken hostage, forcing Dillon to make a choice. Instead of handing over his weapon, he takes aim at the hostage taker. Unfortunately he can’t pull off the impossible and he kills his partner. This haunts him throughout the movie as he refuses to carry a gun in his new role as a small-town marshal. Admittedly conveying something as emotional as that is incredibly difficult, but in this case it was almost like they showed a cue card that read, “insert strong emotion and conflict, Dillon is sad.” That’s the most glaring case, but there were a couple other examples that made me roll my eyes.
Luckily the acting helps overcome a lot of these scenes. As I mentioned earlier, Sawa and Pearce were really good, which is to be expected, but several of the other actors stuck out as well. Timothy Timms pulled off a very believable old man bad guy hiding behind a scruffy beard. His portrayal convincingly came off as a dude just wanting excitement and fun in his old age versus really caring about the money from the bank heist. Barbie Blank plays Amanda, who was a little underdeveloped, but played a nice love interest for our marshal. Oh yeah, she can kick ass too. And finally Jacob Grodnik portrays Jarhead, who is a conscientious objector to the violence his leader advocates thinking the only goal was the cash grab. His backstory with Diablo was intriguing and added a nice twist to his motivation.
All in all, the movie is worth a watch simply to see the return of Devon Sawa. I truly hope he gets some big roles in the near future. Guy Pearce has accomplished some amazing things in his career, but Sawa’s star really showed the brightest in Disturbing the Peace.
Check out the trailer below:
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