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“South of Heaven.” Jason Sudeikis has played major roles before, but nothing like the latest feature from Aharon Keshales, director of Israel’s 2013 Big Bad Wolves horror program. Playing a recently released ex-con involved in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with a big-time gangster, Ted Lasso star shows off his good looks while bringing the performance of nuance and depth. Unfortunately, his good efforts were not enough to defeat the deceptions of the South of Heaven.
South of Heaven: Film Review
The filmmaker thanks Don Siegel’s great 70s crime drama Charley Varrick as an inspiration for this endeavor, and it’s easy to see the similarities. The film portrayed Walter Matthau in a vicious circle as a clever criminal who uses his ingenuity to attack his powerful enemies.
Sudeikis writes the same character as Jimmy Ray, who was released a few years before his 15-year sentence for bank robbery after a heart-wrenching request to be allowed to meet his ex-girlfriend, Annie (Evangeline Lilly), who has had cancer for less than a year. “I will give Annie the best year of her life,” he assured the parole board. South of Heaven.
In the short term, it looks like the film will be a love affair between a man who is trying hard to pick up the pieces of his life and a woman who has been faithfully waiting for him for 12 years. But much like Dustin Hoffman in 1978’s Straight Time, Jimmy quickly got into trouble in the form of his aggressive parole officer, Schmidt (Shea Whigham, presenting another terrifying opportunity). At first, Schmidt simply stated vague threats. But things get darker when he gets Jimmy to commit a crime.
That, however, is the first plot that has befallen Jimmy, who appears to be in dire straits. Disappointed while driving overnight, he accidentally kills a motorcyclist, and asks his friend (Jeremy Bobb), a self-transformed criminal, to help him finish the evidence at his salvage shop.
The work is completed, but what Jimmy does not know is that the victim was a delegate to the local crime commander, Whit Price (Mike Colter) and that he was in possession of $ 500,000. Seeking a refund, Price quickly entered the scene, launching a series of violent incidents including torture, murder, not one but two kidnappings. South of Heaven.
Keshales has the confidence to take his time, not rush to go and add a lot of character descriptions, such as Jimmy and Annie scrambling to prepare for their first night together, each unprotected by his appearance. Also featured by the film is a quiet conversation between Price – a kind of violent but ruthless criminal who describes himself as a “businessman involved in many… programs” – and Annie, where they share their stories about cancer.
The director also allows for an interesting change, if it is jarring, tonal – when Jimmy kidnaps a small-hearted young man (Thaddeus J. Mixson), the film threatens to be John Hughes’ black-style drama.
But the screenplay – co-produced by Keshales and Kai Mark and Navot Papushado – ultimately accumulated a lot, which led to a great deal of infidelity. And while Sudeikis proves to be very effective as a gold-hearted criminal, he is less credible when he is forced into the full mode of John Wick in a spectacular final shooting competition that seems to have been shot once.
South of Heaven is the kind of film that is enough to make you wish you were better, the whole problem of it is less than the amount of its recommended parts.
South of Heaven film will release on October 8, 2021.
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