New to Blu-ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment is the star studded film directorial debut from the cinematographer/director of photography of the “Saw” franchise David A. Armstrong, Pawn. The crime thriller also reunites Forest Whitaker briefly with his “Shield” co-star Michael Chiklis, with Chiklis this time firmly on the opposite of the law and sporting a less than impressive cockney accent.
Starring Sean Faris, Michael Chiklis, Martin Csokas, Stephen Lang, Common, Nikki Reed, Max Beesley, Jessica Szohr with Forest Whitaker and Ray Liotta
Written by Jay Anthony White
Directed by David A. Armstrong
At an all-night diner, a cop (Whitaker) walks in on a robbery in progress. But what happens next – and what happened just before – will change everything you think you know. Inside the diner the former patrons are now hostages (including Faris, Lang, Szohr) and they must contend with a botched robbery attempt that keeps Derrick (Chiklis) and his men waiting on a time lock safe for their spoils. But now the building is surrounded by police with restless fingers on every trigger, and different agendas behind some of them. And one very intense hostage situation is about to take some shocking twists.
Pawn strives to create a tense atmosphere and fill its plot with plenty of surprises but falls flat in its third act as the story loses focus and becomes fascinated in providing too many twists for its own good. The story starts out pretty strong with Chiklis’s Derrick working for and with an unknown accomplice to steal a hard drive from a local Mafioso that owns the diner that contains all the information of his operation. Derrick’s own greed and over anxiousness puts him in the diner a ½ hour before he can access this and then all hell breaks loose. But not everyone is who they seem inside and outside of the diner, and the amount of double crossing gets to be too much. Add in the preposterous actions of Faris’ Nick in the final moments of the film and you get an ending that completely falls apart.
For the actor’s part, a few of them are decent here, though they are not given a lot to go on. Chiklis’s awful accent aside, he actually does decent work here, but man is the accent distracting. Whitaker and Liotta have little more than glorified cameos here, along with Nikki Reed. Perhaps the best performance comes from the always steady Lang, who very convincingly assumes the role of boss in the diner even though that may not really be who he is. Faris and Common are pretty average, they exist in the film but do not standout in any real manner, but they also do not damage the film with their acting either.
The location and setting being small and contained as it is makes for an effective shoot and the look of the film may be one of its biggest assets. Keeping the action focused in a few areas allow for the production to feel slightly bigger than it is and director of photography Keith Dunkerley does an effective job of making the surroundings look bigger and better than they are. Sadly the Blu-ray only contains a short behind the scenes featurette on the making of the film that does not go into too much detail about how any of this was accomplished.
Pawn is a film that attempts to be much more than your standard fare, but despite an excellent cast, falls short of the mark. Far from the worst film out there on the home video market, Pawn does enough right to warrant an impulse rental if you are looking for something mindless to fritter the night away and most of the larger titles are already unavailable, but not quite enough to make it purchase worthy.
2 out of 5
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