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Case Number 18048: Small Claims Court

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Wrong Turn At Tahoe

Paramount // 2009 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis (Retired) // January 8th, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge Daryl Loomis has no regrets.

The Charge

The road to revenge is filled with wrong turns

The Case

When Joshua (Cuba Gooding Jr., Daddy Day Camp) was a small child, Vincent (Miguel Ferrer, Twin Peaks) saved him from his drug dealing father and horrible life. Vincent, however, is a high-profile gangster. Joshua has been brought up in this underworld and, now as an adult, is fully indoctrinated as Vincent's right hand man. After a series of bad deals, they run afoul of Nino (Harvey Keitel, The Last Temptation of Christ), the city's biggest crime boss. Vincent's wife winds up dead, and Joshua's loyalty is called into serious question when Vincent goes after Nino for revenge.

Wrong Turn at Tahoe has a simple plot couched in an established genre, but the execution really makes the film. Action-packed from start to finish, there's little time to rest, but the story comes through in performances from some standout actors who raise the level of the film dramatically. These gangsters have an ethic and an intelligence that doesn't come often in films like this. They are not good men, but they have long philosophical discussions about what they're doing and why, and this dialog works very well to bolster the story. Both leads play somewhat against type. Cuba Gooding, Jr. plays the quiet, stern, loyal lackey; while Miguel Ferrer is the more flamboyant, troubled boss. They occupy the majority of the film's time together, and they play extremely well off each other. Harvey Keitel chews the scenery, as he's expected to do, but he does his job admirably. All three play their parts with relish.

As with the performances, the level of filmmaking rises above the level I expected. Director Franck Khalfoun has put together a very nice picture that matches well with the screenplay from Eddie Nickerson. There are heavy shades of Tarantino and Scorcese, but they make it their own with occasionally winks at the audience, such as a scene with a group of gangsters playing Scrabble and questioning the play of "foreshadowing," only to have the definition read to them before a very direct, real-life example flies in their faces. Plenty of little things like this populate the film, giving it an intelligence that isn't present often in the genre. As a side note, the song for the end credits is by an artist named Julie Christmas, frontwoman of Made Out of Babies and Battle of Mice. It's her first solo track, and it's excellent. She is a phenomenal singer, one who should be considerably more recognized than she has; projects like this should help her along.

Paramount has done a fine job with their release of Wrong Turn at Tahoe. The anamorphic widescreen image looks very good, with strong detail throughout. This is a dark film, overall, but the picture stands up completely. Flesh tones are accurate and colors are sharp. With no transfer issues at all, you can't ask for more. The sound, however, could have been better. There is minimal use of the rear channels in the surround mix, but it's adequate. The only extra is a twelve minute making-of featurette. It's a basic piece, with the actors and filmmakers discussing what they like about the film. It's above average but not particularly special.

Funny, action-packed, and well-performed, Wrong Turn at Tahoe is a film that rises far above where I expected it to reside. This is a fine independent crime film, one that fans of the particular actors and genre will definitely enjoy.

The Verdict

Not Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 84

Perp Profile

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English (SDH)
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Crime
• Independent
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurette


• IMDb

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