Image Entertainment // 2006 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 4th, 2008
Some girls are born to be wild.
A cautionary tale about stealing cars from serial killers.
Sage Ryan a.k.a. "Banshee" (Taryn Manning) makes her living on the grand theft auto circuit, boosting primo rides and delivering them to a powerful crime boss. She's got a good thing going, until she makes off with a Dodge Charger that belongs to a psychopath who butchers women and records their screams into his techno mixes. Yep, he's a scumbag and Sage is on the run for her life, pursued by the cops who think she's a killer, hunted by her former boss, and stalked by the killer who's looking to make Banshee his next musical experiment.
This one's not too bad, thanks primarily to the spirited presence of Taryn Manning who redefines the term "spitfire" into...something that's a lot spunkier than the word "spitfire." Banshee is a wry, smartass, streetwise punk who can hold her own in a fight, steals cars in record time, and has no concept of caution and common sense. This of course translates into beaucoup rash behavior, thrills, spills, and chills, and ultimately finds her tied up and swinging from the ceiling.
This is Manning's movie. There's rarely a scene that doesn't include her and Taryn is more than capable of shouldering the dramatic burden. She's that compelling of a lead. Unfortunately, the film falls into the trap of assigning too much physical acumen to our heroine, creating a sense of disbelief that you better be more than willing to suspend. Look, I'm no chauvinist, and I'm all for strong female characters, but Manning is like five foot nothing and wouldn't approach 100 pounds soaking wet. Yet she consistently smacks down men twice her size, including trained police officers and ruthless gangsters. When she lets loose with a kick to the ankle to cripple the main bad guy, he dutifully goes flying, which elicited a chortle.
Anyway, Manning is still pretty awesome and luckily has a decent story behind her. I'm always up for a good serial killer yarn and the Big Bad in Banshee doesn't disappoint. He's got the creepy apartment in the rundown building that's of course crammed sideways with horrifying photos of dead people and various Psycho Paraphernalia. He's got a decent gimmick -- recording the wails of his suffering victims and looping them into hip trance compositions -- and his blatant misogyny contrasts well with Banshee's feminist can-do attitude, making his eventual comeuppance all the more satisfying.
Everything else is fairly inconsequential. There's a side story about two cops, one of whom allies with Banshee, the other lumbering around making mean faces and voicing his discontent with his young, hotshot partner. Neither brings much to the table, though Eddie -- the young cop -- is construed as Sage's love interest, but mainly gets repeatedly kicked in the balls.
Another good DVD from Image, slick-looking in a clean 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and sporting a robust audio 5.1 surround. No extras make Banshee sob.
A charismatic lead and an effective thriller plot add up to nifty little film.
Not guilty. Girl power.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated R