By: John M Jerva
THE GOOD: I haven’t watched a western in a long time and this week, I’ve watched two with the Australian outback thriller Outnumbered being the first. Secondly, we have Promise which hails from indie filmmaker and star Joe Cornet who is currently doing the awesome sounding Assault on Rio Bravo starring Alexander Nevsky, Michael Paré and Olivier Gruner. That one sounds like a B action movie good time so I was intrigued to check out Promise from Cornet. How does this one stand up to Outnumbered and others before it?
Cornet stars as Ransom, a bounty hunter, who gets in a relationship with a woman named Tess and her daughter named Promise and when mom is killed by ruthless bandits, the stage is set for a showdown between Random and the men responsible while at the same time trying to find out what happened to Promise and trying to beat the bad guys to a cache of hidden gold because you know in a western there has to be loot.
Cornet, with a limited budget, does set up some nice visuals and brings some authenticity to this time period with sets, costumes and practical stunts. You can tell that Cornet put his heart and soul into the project and he is a lover of the genre.
Promise does serve up some decent moments for fans of the genre too and there is a decent body count circling around ten bodies and what action there is, is done with some pride.
The cast including Trista Robinson as Promise, genre staple Don Murray, Curt Lambert and Kerry Goodwin do make the most of their time on camera but I felt that Robinson should have been more of a factor being that the film is called Promise. There is some hammy acting that is par for the course with these films and some lines fall flat but all in all, everybody gives it their all.
THE BAD: Unfortunately, Joe Cornet, who also plays the lead role of Ransom isn’t very engaging and he just doesn’t own up to this type of film that was done so much better in the past. As the lone drifter, Cornet doesn’t sell it for the audience or at least me and the film would have served better with someone else in the role.
There’s not much in the area of action and while we do have showdowns where people draw their pistols, the impact or dramatic effect just isn’t there. Outnumbered offered more impactful shoot outs and just like that movie, the CGI squibs took me out of it when it was happening. This is a slow burn and not in a good way.
Promise is set around two hours long and the movie overstays it’s welcome as this kind of entry would have served much better with a running time of 90 or so minutes. The plot is a little convoluted and there are some extra characters that come and go that do nothing for the storytelling.
OVERALL: I did see what Cornet was going for and when it comes to indie fair, I look for the good in everything. Cornet delivers a few standout moments but for the most part I was left wanting way more. This film falls into the same trap that a lot of DTV westerns of late have and that’s not being able to rise above the limited means. Many indie projects have had less to work with but managed to use what they had to full effect.
I am still curious about Assault on Rio Bravo and hopefully Cornet will learn from this entry and work out the problems and deliver a true B movie good time.
Promise is available on iTunes, Google Play and all the Digital platforms.