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Review: Backtrace

Backtrace
3 10

PLOT: After a heist gone wrong, a thief (Matthew Modine) finds himself stricken with amnesia. Seven years later, he’s busted out of prison by a mysterious gang holding a drug that may restore his memory, while he’s hunted by a determined detective (Sylvester Stallone).

REVIEW: When I learned that Sylvester Stallone had somehow made an action flick on the (ahem) Sly, I had my suspicions, especially once I learned it was going to be a Grindstone VOD release produced by Emmett/Furla and directed by Brian A. Miller, one of their go-to guys. After all, these guys have churned out a series of paycheck parts for Bruce Willis, so now it seemed pretty clear that Sly was going down this road after dipping his toe in with the pretty bad (but not awful) ESCAPE PLAN 2 (with a third on the way!).

For those not up-to-date on the Emmett/Furla movies, basically they’re microbudget actioners that are churned out pretty quickly, with the appeal being that slightly past their prime A-listers, like Bruce Willis, Nicolas Cage, John Cusack (now a staple of this genre) and even Robert De Niro (in a few movies) are hired to play supporting parts at huge fees. Their roles are shot ultra-fast, and the parts are plugged-in, given them an ersatz star vehicle, or at least close enough that undiscerning fans will be fooled into renting them on VOD. It’s a pretty dishonest model, but probably also a profitable one.

Now, putting Stallone or Willis into supporting parts, even if they were just doing it for the paycheck, wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing – were the movies anything more than assembly-line potboilers. The directors, like Miller, aren’t particularly incompetent and the movies look fine (if uninspired), but the screenplays are always very weak, and BACKTRACE is not the exception. In fact, this is one of the worst Emmett/Furla specialties in a while, as it was clearly assembled and shot quickly, perhaps even written on the go, and makes so little sense it’s not even fun as trash.

Despite the posters advertising Stallone and the odd-choice to top-bill Ryan Guzman (star of Ryan Murphy’s 9-1-1), the star of the show is Matthew Modine. He plays a robber that can’t remember where he’s hidden the loot, so he’s busted out of jail by Guzman and a former nurse (Meadow Williams), who’s somehow gotten her hands on an experimental serum than restores memories in amnesiacs.

Whatever. Sure.

The only nice thing one can say about BACKTRACE is that some of the seasoned pros in the cast do their best. Modine, God-bless him, tries to put some energy into the part, with Christopher McDonald shows up to chew a little scenery. Sly, for his part, looks cool as the weathered cop, but also seems bored. He’s too smart to fool himself into thinking this is anything more than a paycheck part, and he acts accordingly. At least in ESCAPE PLAN 2, he seemed to be having fun.

BACKTRACE is really only worth a look for die-hard Stallone completists, but even those hard-core fans will have a hard time finding any redeeming features in this cheapo thriller. There’s nothing to it, and for a real Stallone vehicle go see CREED II or wait for the next RAMBO. Trust me.

Source: JoBlo.com

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