By: Anthony Francis
Barry Pepper has long been one of our most dedicated and interesting character actors. He’a an actor who takes chances and has done some really great work in some excellent films.
Audiences are most familiar with the actor for his role as Pvt. Jackson, the sniper with a soul who is dead on with every shot in Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan”. His focused performance was a standout in a film of standout work by a top cast.
Pepper gave career-best turns in both Spike Lee’s “25th Hour” and the Tommy Lee Jones Modern Western “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.” In both films, Pepper proved the depth of his abilities.
While almost every actor eventually stars in some form of Action or Thriller film (even uber-serious thespian Sean Penn threw his hat into the Action ring with 2015’s undervalued “The Gunman”), Barry Pepper had never been the lead of his own Action film. The actor had been a supporting part of quite a few but never fully “steered the ship” on his own.
The new film “Trigger Point” finally gives Pepper his Action film-leading man status.
The actor stars as Nicolas Shaw, a Special Ops soldier trying to live a somewhat quiet life in Canada. Shaw’s home is a fortress with cameras and motion sensors covering every inch of the compound and a drone that he sends up daily to scan the perimeter.
As the film opens, Shaw’s former team are killed one by one. A mysterious assassin named Quentin is behind it, but Shaw is still alive.
Tortured on a mission, Shaw has no memory of the incident and is informed that he could have been the one who gave up the names of the people on his team.
Shaw cannot believe this is true and the fact that it may have happened (and that the facts cannot be trusted) weighs heavily on the character. But he is out to prove to himself and others that this could not be the truth.
Colm Feore is Elias Kane, Shaw’s former superior who wants to reactivate his top man and track down the assassin. Kane also holds out hope that Shaw can rescue his daughter, a junior operative who has gotten too close to the mysterious Quentin’s network and has been kidnapped.
Kane also needs Shaw to retrieve a file. In a film such as this, there is always a file.
With time running out for Kane’s daughter, Shaw sets out on a mission of recovery and retribution, using the skills he so desperately wanted to put away forever.
Taking its lead from so many Action Thrillers that came before it, “Trigger Point” sets out on a somewhat entertaining path.
Director Brad Turner spent his decades long career directing television Action shows, having his biggest success helming forty-six episodes of the popular show 24. The filmmaker can certainly handle his action sense and there are some solid-enough moments in this one but nothing that really gets the blood pumping beyond the moment.
Screenwriter Michael Vickerman has certainly done his homework and his screenplay shows that he is a student of films such as Michael Winner’s “The Mechanic” and the lone-hero-with-a-past Action films of the 1980s.
It is too easy to compare this film to the modern “Bourne” or “John Wick” series but it will suffer in comparison to those popular films. While not as good as those films, Turner’s film does entertain.
Vickeman’s screenplay might be too “talky” for some movie goers but sometimes, in films of this ilk, well-written dialogue enhances the characters and (when properly directed) allows for a slow build that will ease an audience into any upcoming action moments.
While the overall narrative is a well-worn cinematic trope, Pepper’s character and performance is interesting and the screenplay is handled very well. Vickerman knows he is not the first screenwriter to craft of film like this and allows for the inevitable cliches to flow naturally while maintaining interest through pacing.
As a director, Turner smartly steers clear of overdoing the handful of action scenes. They are compelling and well-crafted,and Turner makes sure they are earned.
The film has a good feel, and it is always a “cool thing” in an Action film to see sly assassins shooting at one another with 45 caliber pistols equipped with silencers. The shootouts are designed realistically but, of course, the bad guys are never the best marksmen.
“Trigger Point” breaks no new ground and director Brad Turner doesn’t try to reinvent the genre, but it is always interesting and fairly entertaining thanks to a very good lead performance and a well-written screenplay.