Review by Sean Boelman
Disturbing the Peace, directed by York Alec Shackleton, is a new action-thriller starring Guy Pearce (Memento) and Devon Sawa (Final Destination). Yet despite the best efforts of both charismatic stars, the film is rather frustrating due to an uninspired and generic script and bland direction.
The movie follows a marshall and an outlaw biker gang leader as they go to battle in a small town when the latter attempts a heist in broad daylight with brutal consequences. Although there are some added flourishes like the heist and internal crisis subplots, the main conflict in this film is little more than an old-school stand-off, and that is admittedly pretty anticlimactic.
Even though the runtime is right under an hour and a half (excluding credits), the movie drags significantly, often feeling like there isn’t enough happening to give the film a significant narrative momentum. A few bursts of excitement here and there don’t compensate for an otherwise shallow and insubstantial story.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the movie is that it doesn’t feature any particularly memorable action sequences. Apart from one or two high-intensity explosions, there isn’t much in the action that will cause much of an adrenaline rush. Much of the film is comprised of the two characters making threats and trying to outsmart each other, and after a while, it starts to feel confoundingly repetitive.
Unfortunately, the execution of the movie does it no favors. The cinematography comes across as very cheap and amateurish. It almost feels like the filmmakers were trying to get the job done as quickly and cheaply as possible. Shackleton brings little to no style to the movie, and as such, the result feels painfully industrial at times.
The character development in the film is also very lackluster. The character arc for the protagonist, a noble but traumatized former gunslinger, is completely archetypal. There is very little depth or emotional impact to be found in this underwhelming and generic tale. The movie’s antagonist is similarly cartoonish.
That said, the actors do their best to breathe some life into the script, but not even this can help the film be enjoyable. Pearce and Sawa have solid chemistry together and nail the tension resulting from the antagonism, but the script gives them little else with which they can work. Additionally, the supporting cast is entirely forgettable.
There are a few moments in Disturbing the Peace that suggest something better could have come out of this script at the hands of a more talented filmmaker, but more often than not, the movie feels like a waste of its talented stars. Pearce and Sawa deserve better than this.
Disturbing the Peace hits theaters and VOD on January 17.