By: GK Abraham
A VIOLENT MAN- is a 2017 film directed by Matthew Berkowitz. I generally can tell in a a few minutes if a film has potential. From the opening credits, with striking, compelling red on black credits, listing noteworthy actors, dramatically lensed by cinematographer Luke Hanlein; this film directed by 2nd time Director Matthew Berkowitz… proclaims potential.
“Some have a shelf life that’s longer than others.”
Actor Bruce Davidson, is always a sign of quality, when I see his name in a film, I know I am going to at the very least get a great performance by him. This film from frame one, has more than Bruce Davidson going for it, it also has MMA great Chuck Liddell to give this MMA tinged flick some authenticity. But the real stars besides Bruce Davidson, are Thomas Q. Jones as the titular protagonist, Khalilah Joi as Whitney, Isaach De Bankole as Pete, Jon Sklaroff as Detective Beckett, and Felisha Terrell as Angela; all of the actors deliver engrossing performances.
But then the strange plotting kicks in, and the film starts to falter for me. This is more of a drama with action elements, which is fine, however it is strangely and stubbornly by the numbers, which is less fine. Around the 20 minute mark it hits solidly ‘stupidville’ territory, with the protagonist choosing the most moronic options possible.
Really minor spoilers here, but honestly it is nothing major, but jump to the next paragraph if concerned: Regarding plotting— a character gets talked in to choking someone in public, really??? Who does that??? When I get to stupid spots in a movie, it becomes very hard for me to finish the movie. Time is a valuable thing, and I do not want to waste it on stupidity.
But then the intriguing parts kick in on this film, and I find myself still watching. It is both a gripping, and infuriating film.
It continues to get less rational, until by the hour mark you are solidly in absolutely, gonzo, non-realist, insane territory. OMG. It goes from moronic, to sexy, to funny, to horrific. This film goes off the rails hard, and does not slow down. I have seldom gone from liking a film, to disliking a film, to wanting to turn off the film, to shaking my head at a film, to finding the film gripping, to thinking the writer is a moron, to thinking the film is some lynchian absurdist gem.
“I love you too. It’s just not enough some times.”
It is ultimately a captivatingly made and well performed film, that somehow manages to survive and work within the confines of an amazingly questionable plot.
This frustrating film, may actually be a great film about a falling down life.
All I can say, I found it riveting, despite itself, and its glaring plot issues. And it kept me watching till the credits roll. And having finished it, I can see myself re-watching it.