Director: Ravi Dhar
Writer: John Fallon
Cast: Nick Principe, Robin Sydney, Todd Farmer, Malice McMunn, Malice 666, Trent Haaga, John Fallon, Laban Pheidias, Philip Salick, Laban Pheidias, Joshua Lou Friedman
Running Time: 90 min.
American Muscle is the feel-good movie of the year. That is – if you like headshots, painfully bad dialog, and annoying characters.
This revenge flick chronicles the exploits of John Falcon (played by Nick Principe), a guy who’s just spent the last 10 years in prison. Through flashbacks, we are gradually shown that Falcon and his friends were involved in a botched robbery, after which things went wrong (much like the movie itself). After John gets out of prison he immediately goes to work on finding his girlfriend (Robin Sydney), as well as killing everyone who is responsible for ruining his life. What follows is an hour and a half of headshots, breasts, flashbacks, flashbacks with breasts, a lame plot twist, and guns. And more breasts.
It’s set in unincorporated California, through a series of abandoned homes and dilapidated buildings. It’s actually shot in a way that’s somewhat compelling, with gritty environments that really gave me the feeling of economic desperation and despair. All the other backgrounds and settings are so dilapidated that they didn’t look too different before and after gun battles took place. You could say that the movie succeeds in that way: it makes me fully appreciate the hopelessness of the character and his circumstances. The sound editing and music weren’t bad, just a generic mix of ambient music during flashbacks and “introspective” moments.
The problem is that these things work best with no dialog and no action. The dialog made me cringe, and I was anxious for these annoying characters to meet their end. On the rare occasion there was hand to hand fighting, which was used as a silly plot device. It seemed like the writer wanted John Falcon to be injured at a certain point, so he had him try to take on nameless bad guy #23 with fists. You have a gun, use it! One wonders if their budget allowed a set number of bullets that needed to be used sparingly. The only special effects to speak of are for headshots; it really looks like they were augmented with CGI, which makes the gore look comical at times.
I found myself feeling relief with each one of these headshots not because I’m a lover of violence, but because it marked the end of another inept and annoying bad guy. In good revenge movies there is a sense of satisfaction when the protagonist puts down an enemy, but here I only felt like it moved me one step closer to the end of the movie. Another problem is just a lack of depth in the main character, John Falcon. We know virtually nothing about him other than the fact that he was in prison, and he’s just now getting out of jail.
John starts his killing spree literally the day he gets paroled from prison; that doesn’t make any sense at all!! If you were wrongfully convicted of a crime and spent time in prison, I doubt that the first thing you’d do after you gained your freedom is commit a bunch of high-profile murders that will send you back to prison immediately. You would probably want to be at least a little bit methodical about it. If the writers had even briefly thought about this, they could have written the character with some more depth; he could get out of prison and try to stay out of trouble, but he reluctantly gets caught up in violence again after he gets word that one of the people who betrayed him has put out a contract on his life.
Any kind of effort at writing a compelling character would’ve added much-needed depth. Also, he steals a really distinctive yellow muscle car in the beginning of the movie, and takes this vehicle on his revenge mission. Once again, this is just stupid; he might as well have stolen the “Pussy Wagon” from Kill Bill Vol. 1. The Blu-ray contains no extra features, lends credence to the idea that this movie was written and filmed over the weekend.
Just avoid this one, which should be easy to do.
Dirac’s Rating: 2/10