Review by Sean Boelman
Co-written and directed by Justin Foia, Point Defiance is a new psychological thriller with a very intriguing premise. However, despite having a lot of potential on paper, the film takes a much more generic turn heading into the final act, making the experience frustrating and anticlimactic as a whole.
The movie follows a stockbroker who has acclimated to his new life under house arrest, only for his brother to return from a tour in Afghanistan, upending his routine and causing dark secrets to become unburied. The first thirty or so minutes are actually very good, introducing a decent mystery and some interesting character arcs.
That said, it soon becomes obvious that Foia and his brother Timothy put more thought into the concept than the way in which they would expand it. The dialogue in the film is often painfully obvious. The chief example of this can be seen in the protagonist’s repeated refusal to discuss his past. This clearly implies that there’s something bigger going on, and when it is eventually revealed, it is hardly surprising.
There are some very interesting messages here about entitlement and privilege, but those end up taking a backseat to the movie’s more superficial subplot. The introduction of a missing persons case into the film is essential for the narrative momentum but comes at the expense of the early focus on characterization.
For the most part, the protagonist is a well-written character, but this is largely thrown out the window by the end of the movie. Like everything else about the script, the direction in which the arc is heading is extremely predictable, and as a result, the nuances that are established early on lose much of their effect.
Derek Phillips gives a surprisingly strong performance in his leading role, making the film feel grounded even when it takes its more ridiculous turn. On the other hand, Josh Crotty is consistently over-the-top and hammy, albeit occasionally fun to watch. Still, the dynamic between the two works quite well thanks to their chemistry.
On a technical level, the movie is a mixed success. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the film is that Foia takes advantage of the relatively confined location to make the viewer feel trapped inside the mind of the character. But when Foia goes for something a little more abstract, playing with the perception of reality, it doesn’t quite pay off.
Point Defiance is a mostly entertaining watch even if it almost entirely falls apart by the final act. There are some really good things happening throughout that will keep viewers interested enough for its hour and forty minutes.
Point Defiance is now available on VOD.
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