Maya Entertainment // 2010 // 95 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Roman Martel (Retired) // December 20th, 2010
"The Exodus of Charlie Wright" also known as "Let my Mario Van Peebles go!"
Charlie Wright (Aidan Quinn, The Mission) has been caught. He's been making billions of dollars in a ponzi scheme, but the FBI has built a case and they are moving in for the kill. Before Agent Hobbs (Mario Van Peebles, Baadasssss!) can get the cuffs on Wright, the man disappears right under his nose. With no leads, Hobbs is at a loss and under the gun of FBI Director Hill (Corbin Bernsen, Major League).
Unfortunately for Wright he's made some powerful enemies. A pair of Russian gangsters were among his victims and they've sent a crew of hit men lead by the stoic Damon (Luke Goss, Blade II) to find Wright and drag him back to Los Angeles. Turns out Wright is in Tijuana, Mexico attempting to resolve some personal business. But Jorge Garza (Andy Garcia, Ocean's Eleven), head of a powerful crime family, has found him. Garza has some serious money troubles and if he can obtain Wright's billions, he'd be in the clear. He sends his brother Gabriel (Danny Pino, Cold Case) to pick Wright up and make him an offer he can't refuse. But Wright has his own agenda and even these forces baring down on him are going to find it hard to stop his exodus.
Right off the bat I'll tell you this: Across the Line is not an action movie. It's a drama punctuated with a couple tense action sequences. The movie's main focus is it's characters and specifically Wright, Agent Hobbs and Jorge Garza. Quinn, Van Peebles and Garcia get to play some juicy roles and dive right in.
Van Peebles and Garcia share a mirroring arc. Both are mentors to younger men. Jimmy (Jordan Belfi, Surrogates), the agent who finds Wright in Tijuana, has a bright future, and Hobbs knows that if Wright gets away anyone involved with the screw up is going to pay. Van Peebles does a great job revealing the conflict of doing what he can to make sure Jimmy is clear of blame, and actually dealing with Wright. Andy Garcia's plays Garza as a man who's well aware of his shortcomings and was unable to stop them from bringing him down. He doesn't want his little brother to get taken down with him, so he works behind the scenes to make sure Gabriel gets a chance, even if Jorge's wife Mariel (Gina Gershon, Showgirls) is anxious about what those steps may involve.
Aidan Quinn is also impressive. At first I thought he was underplaying the role too much. But as the film went along I saw that Wright internalizes everything. Only his eyes give him away. In several key moments you can see the despair and fear, even if the rest of his face is a mask of indifference. As we learn more and more about Wright, we may not sympathize with him, but we understand what he's attempting.
The rest of the supporting cast is very good. Luke Goss is very effective as the professional hit man sent after Wright. Claudia Ferri plays Mary, a woman who is feeling time creeping up on her. Her interaction with Wright brings out some great scenes for both actors. Corbin Bernsen seems to be having some fun as the very pissed off FBI director. I wouldn't mess with him.
Across the Line reminded me a lot of the films of Michael Mann. The cinematography, editing and use of music are very reminiscent of Heat or Collateral. Director R. Ellis Frazier does a good job keeping all the elements working together. The dramatic scenes have weight thanks to the actors, but also because of all the production elements at play. The two action sequences are tight, as editing and hand held camera escalate the intensity. It's a well crafted film.
If there is any downside, it's that the DVD cover makes this look like a gritty action film. It's not. There's way too much talking, moments of introspection and dower scenes of silence to call it anything but a character drama. Anyone expecting action from all the guns on the cover is going to find the 95 minutes slow going.
You get some very good performances, a compelling story and a well crafted film from top to bottom. I can easily recommend this to anyone looking for a gritty drama about the criminal world. The well executed action scenes are just icing on the cake.
Maya Entertainment provides a bare bones release. The picture is nice and clear, allowing you to enjoy the directors compositions. The 5.1 gives you nice clear dialogue and allows the atmospheric score to punctuate the scenes. Sadly there are no extras.
Every character in this movie is guilty of crossing the line, but the movie is free to go.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Maya Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated