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DIE IN A GUNFIGHT gets 4.5/10 Needs to bite the bullet


Directed by Collin Schiffli

Starring Alexandra Daddario, Diego Boneta, Travis Fimmel

4.5/10

This movie recently hit the cinemas after a visually interesting and dynamic trailer was released to the public. It combined notes of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet with gunslingers, and Americana, to adapt it to a new audience with life and vitality.

Borne of the blood feud between the Rathcart and Gibbon families, their heirs Benjamin and Mary become star-crossed lovers. The constant meddling of their toxically manipulative fathers results in some poignant moments for the audience to resonate with in some form – the baring legacy of a family, the expectations of parents, the restrictions emplaced by duty and responsibility, and the disgrace of loving the bad boy (we’ve all been there). Writers Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari do a great job in constructing scenes that showcase consuming love, and all-consuming obsession, set in a New York-inspired city with mobsters and crime happening around every corner.

Unfortunately, the story in and of itself was something that would’ve made Shakespeare’s skin crawl. There was a sense of hyper-reality across the whole film, so the individual acting abilities of the cast felt justified to the themes imposed by director, Collin Schiffli. Narration by Billy Crudup adds character to the story, but towards the end the narrator delivers audience cues in a condescending manner that leaves a bitter taste. This choice, partnered with comic-book style monologues, does the crime thriller genre a disservice.

After a shotgun wedding gets the majority of the cast, of which a good 80% are useless to the overall story, they act as an audience to the daring Icarus-style death of Gibbon (Justin Chatwin) who has lived fast, died young, leaving a beautiful corpse, and quiet literally in the early stages of the film said how he would love to “die in a gunfight” – which only begs the question, did he in fact have a death wish this whole time, and was his “love” for Rathcart (Alexandra Daddario) just an easy ends to justify the means?

It is interesting to note that in 2010 the script was listed on The Black List, a survey of most-liked unproduced screenplays. For nearly seven years it went through developmental hell, first attracting Zac Efron as the lead and main production company; to attaching Josh Hutcherson, Helen Hunt, and Olivia Munn. People dropped out, or were replaced, resulting in principal photography beginning in late 2019.

To say that Die in a Gunfight is an updated version of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet is a boast that needs to bite the bullet.

JOSHUA HALL HAINES

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