Synopsis: A small-town marshal who hasn’t carried a gun since he left the Texas Rangers after a tragic shooting, must pick up his gun again to do battle with a gang of outlaw bikers that has invaded the town to pull off a brazen and violent heist.
Stars: Guy Pearce, Devon Sawa, Kelly Greyson, Barbie Blank, Michael Sirow, Dwayne Cameron, Michael Bellisario, Jacob Grodnik, John Lewis, Terence J. Rotolo
Director: York Alec Shackleton
Running Length: 91 minutes
TMMM Score: (2/10)
Review: It’s a sad truth but it used to be that you could often track the downward spiral of a Hollywood actor’s career. First they start moving from leading player to wise boss or estranged parent, then they’d write their autobiography dishing out gossip and would experience a career resurgence on television only to find themselves as novelty cameos hauled out in sitcoms and B and C level direct to DVD films. Now, that path is harder to follow because actors simply go where the work is and while some are smart enough to hold out for the right role no matter what, others are less discerning and that comes back to haunt them.
Take Guy Pearce as a great example. Here’s an actor that had a minor hot streak when he first appeared on the scene with 1997’s L.A. Confidential and 2000’s Memento. Though he worked steadily over the next two decades, he never made it to that confident A-list status so you’d find him in random roles such as back in 2008 when he appeared in Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker as well as Bedtime Stories which took home the Kid’s Choice Award for Favorite Movie. Just slightly over a year ago he had a major role in the divisive Mary Queen of Scots and late in 2019 played Ebeneezer Scrooge in a darkly twisted adaptation of A Christmas Carol for the BBC. So the actor clearly wasn’t hard up for work.
How to explain, then, just what Pearce is doing in Disturbing the Peace, a godawful cops and robbers cheapie? Throughout the film I kept thinking to myself, “three years ago he was in a movie directed by Ridley Scott (Alien: Covenant) and now he’s acting opposite an actor that can barely stop himself from looking into the camera.” This is one of those head-scratching watches where you can’t comprehend how a group of humans with functioning brains made something so poor, and then had the audacity to ask audiences to pay for the (dis)pleasure of sitting through 91 minutes of it. That it was reportedly made for $5 million dollars is shocking to me because I’ve seen movies made for far less look much more polished. Where did all that money go to?
Haunted by an incident from his past that resulted in his partner’s death, ex-Texas Ranger Jim Dillon (Pearce, Lawless) is now the prickly marshal of Horse Cave, KY who keeps to himself. Though he has a flirtatious relationship with the preacher’s daughter (Kelly Greyson), he’s a lone wolf that hasn’t touched a gun in the ten years since he left his former position. His resolve is put to the test when a group of hard-nosed bikers arrive in town and kick off their plan to hold up an armored car set to deliver a huge payload to the bank. Cleverly cutting the townspeople and law enforcement off from the outside world (no electricity or cell phone towers means no way to phone a friend), it’s just Dillon and his deputy (Michael Sirow) against a mass of ruthless thugs. Incidentally, we know they’re ruthless because they have names like Shovelhead, Pyro, Spider, Diesel, Jarhead, and Dirty Bob.
The leader of the thugs is Diablo (Devon Sawa, who also produced) and he introduces himself with the most hysterical line I think I’ll hear in the entirety of 2020: “My name is Diablo. At least that’s what my friends call me…and my enemies.” Er, isn’t that everyone? I rewound it just to be sure I caught it. Bulked up and far removed from the teeny bopper image he’s remembered for, Sawa is going for the gold medal is neck vein popping, eye bulging, red faced fury and he largely won me over because unlike most of the rest of the cast he knows his way around acting in front of a camera. The same goes for Pearce who, for better or worse, gets the job done even if you kind of can’t believe he’s working in such an amateurish production. Actually, the one I liked best is Greyson as Pearce’s love interest and she’s the best butt-kicker of them all. While not entirely the best actor on the set, there’s something winning in the performance that fits with what’s happening onscreen, softening some of the awkward edges created by the directing and writing.
Director York Alec Shackleton is a former skateboarder turned director and working with Chuck Hustmyre Mad-Libs-esque script he has an eye for keeping the camera moving and setting up several interesting shots but doesn’t do much to rally anything from the supporting players. When the violence erupts and the town is essentially taken wholly hostage, areas that were once full of extras suddenly are reduced to a handful of people. When “the entire town” is corralled into a church it looks like there are about 12 women that reside there and all of them look extremely worried they left the oven on. At least they don’t have lines – several unfortunate souls who shall remain nameless were gifted with small parts and deliver their dialogue like they were ordering off of a fast food menu in a language they’d never spoken before.
So yes…2020 has produced it’s first true dog of a film and here I was thinking the remake of The Grudge was going to be the lowest the bar was to be set so early in the year. Obviously, if you are wanting a serious movie you need to pass Disturbing the Peace by and never ever look back but if you have 80-ish minutes to spare (the credits run an obscenely long 7 and a half minutes) and want to be truly bowled over with how shockingly inept this is, by all means have at it.