The Hollow Point
Studio: Vertical Entertainment
Directed by Gonzalo López-Gallego
Dec 15, 2016
Wallace has returned to his run-down hometown on the U.S.-Mexico border to serve as its new sheriff. He’s barely been back a day when he finds himself drawn into a case involving a gun-smuggling ring and crossing paths with an old flame, a sleazy used car salesman, his drunken predecessor and a vicious cartel hitman.
The heyday of the Western is long gone and has been for some time. But rather than die off completely, the genre has fractured into several discreet subgenres. The traditional Westerns that still get made – that is to say, Westerns set in the late 19th century – tend to be modern action films playing dress up. Think Gore Verbinski’s ill-fated reimagining of The Lone Ranger or this years’ fun but disposable remake of The Magnificent Seven. Another facet of the genre is the neo-Western; films set in the modern day that crib the geography, themes and style of their ancestors. Despite the name, the neo-Western is far from new, but the subgenre has found a new home in both television and low to mid-budget films.
The Hollow Point is certainly one of the latter, but it takes its cues from the former. In addition to feeling like the shaky pilot to a potentially interesting television series, the film cribs much of its tough-guy posturing and half-baked philosophizing from the likes of True Detective. Director Gonzalo López-Gallego – whose former work includes horror cheapies Apollo 18 and Open Grave – assumes that an audience presented with enough gruff actors pontificating about morality and death and enough mournful shots of wide desert vistas will accept that a film is profound when, in fact, it’s just vague and hackneyed. Not helping matters is the specific plot machinations regarding gun smuggling on the border – complete with helpful statistics in the opening crawl – which feels like a stab at social awareness that is never explored in any meaningful fashion.
It goes without saying that Ian McShane is vastly overqualified for the part of Leland, the loquacious drunk of a former sheriff. One might even feel a twinge of sympathy for writer Nils Lyew, who likely didn’t know that the actor who would be cast as his character would be one whose previous version of a similar character was one of the greatest performances of one of the greatest written roles in the history of the acting medium. Miscast against type is John Leguizamo as the all-but-silent assassin. Lynn Collins rounds out the major players as The Troubled But Understanding Woman. Attempting to anchor all this is Patrick Wilson, a dependable and versatile character actor who’s been testing the leading man waters over the last few years with Insidious, The Conjuring and Fargo. In The Hollow Point, he effectively channels late-sixties Paul Newman; handsome and reserved, but with a loose relatability. The film throws a twist into that characterization at the end of the first act – in what passes for the only genuinely thrilling sequence in the film – but all the fine actors, narrative subversions and dusty landscapes in the world can't save a film that thinks it’s saying a lot without saying much at all.
Author rating: 2/10
Average reader rating: 10/10
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