Review: The Hollow Point
PLOT: The new Sherriff (Patrick Wilson) of a small town near the U.S/ Mexican border gets mixed up with a cartel plot to smuggle bullets over the border. Ill-equipped to deal with the sociopathic cartels, he’s forced to rely on the help of the former Sherriff (Ian McShane), who’s methods he’s long despised but now seem unavoidable.
REVIEW: Ian F**kin’ McShane. If that name’s not enough to get your butt in a theater seat (or more realistically – shell out the VOD fee) I don’t’ know what is. As a long-standing fan of the former Al Swearengen (read my Good/Bad/Badass on him here), it’s a delight to see him play one of the leads in a straight-up, legit actioner with some good atmosphere, top notch production values and a quirky touch.
A neo-noir infused with western DNA, THE HOLLOW POINT is trying hard for a Cormac McCarthy feel, and while this isn’t NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, you’ve got to appreciate director Gonzalo López-Gallego and writer Nils Lyew for giving it a real go. With this cast and the smart use of a modest budget, they’re able to get closer to that vibe than you’d have any reason to expect.
The premise is a great one, with the title referring to hollow point bullets, called “cop-killers” on the streets (thanks LETHAL WEAPON 3 – although Wilson re-explains it in the film) used by the cartels. It seems they’re running out of bullets, and the drug-runners have been having thugs on the U.S side buy ammo to smuggle over the border, something McShane discovers during a violent run-in with an offender, with his cold-blooded (to a degree) execution of the perp leading to his dismissal.
Patrick Wilson starts-off very much in “Fargo” mode, as a straight-laced Sherriff, albeit one with enough of an attitude that his ex (Lynn Collins) hates him and most of his townsfolk think he’s an asshole. It doesn’t take long for his perspective to change though, with a run-in with a machete-wielding Sicario (John Leguizamo – another one for the “Good Bad Badass”) leaving him a permanent lefty. Ouch. One of my complaints is that even if he lost a hand, the next time he’s out doing his thing he’s gone all Nicolas Cage in BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS, shoving rifles in bystander’s faces and such.
The movie really starts to cook once McShane becomes front and center, with him looking a good ten years younger than his actual age, and sporting a classic, weathered look and a real spark that differentiates him from guys like Tommy Lee Jones, who sometimes seem to be going through the motions. McShane is on fire here. The action scenes are also well-done, and the adversaries are cool, with James Belushi surprising me for the second time in a month (following THE WHOLE TRUTH) with his inspired turn as the antagonist, a car dealer helping pass the bullets over the border.
While not a perfect movie and sometimes a little too over-the-top and stylized for my tastes (some of the dialogue could have stood being more naturalistic), THE HOLLOW POINT is way above average for this kind of fare, and I especially like how Gallego doesn’t shy away from depicting the sociopathic side of the cartels, with Leguizamo pretty scary in his killing machine part. This is a sharp little gem and well-worth checking out.