Movie Review: Standoff (2016)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the action thriller starring Laurence Fishburne and Thomas Jane.

Synopsis: A 12-year-old girl, visiting her parents' graves, witnesses and photographs a murderer killing people at a local cemetery and, fleeing for her life, seeks refuge in a nearby farmhouse. The house's lone resident, a suicidal Army veteran mourning the recent loss of his son, takes the girl into his protection and, armed with just a shotgun and one shell, works to hold the killer at bay until he decides to give up or help arrives.


My wife and I decided to watch a movie last night and, interested in seeing a thriller, we looked through our options on Netflix. I had read the description of this particular movie a few days ago and thought it looked somewhat interesting. And, not seeing anything that looked any better, decided to give it a try. As it turns out, it was a pretty good film.

I think the thing I found I liked about this movie was the simplicity. A lot of films in this genre tend to over-complicate things and just aren't enjoyable as a result. This movie, in comparison, kept the plot pretty simple. Two men, both wounded but equally matched in their skill set, look to gain an advantage that allows them to obtain their objective. For Sade (Fishburne), it's killing the girl and getting the film from her camera. For Carter, it's preventing that from happening.

The fact Carter only had one bullet left in his shotgun was also an intriguing plot point. The weapon, as Sade was quick to mention, was pretty much only effective at close range to begin with. And, since he only had the one shell, it's not like he could just fire the weapon at will and hope for the best. If he wasted the one shot, it was "game over."

I also liked the idea of Carter being in the state of mind he was in. His depression over his son's death made him somewhat unpredictable, especially when the girl he was protecting (Ballentine) started touching his son's things. There were times when I began to wonder if maybe he was really considering Sade's offer to let him live if he gave up the girl. At the same time, the fact he was suicidal, also meant he might be willing to give up his life to protect the girl.

Fishburne, for his part, did an excellent job in the villain role. His character was cold and calculating, preferring to keep things professional. But, he also had some anger issues and, if the right buttons were pushed, could be a bit unpredictable. As I've said in the past, movies like this are only as good as their bad guy and he more than lived up to expectations.

His exchanges with Carter were also pretty entertaining to listen to because they fell into a wide range of categories. There were times when they could be intense and personal. Other times, such as when Carter threatens to call the police, they were actually a little funny. If nothing else, they kept things from getting dull. 

Final Opinion

This movie more than lived up to my expectations of it. It was a great psychological thriller with a good mix of action and a strong performance by its leading actors. I recommend taking the time to watch it.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 07/01/2016, StevenHelmer
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