Die in a Gunfight, Not even sardonic narration from the often pleasant Billy Crudup can save the noisy mess that’s “Die in a Gunfight.” And man is there a variety of it.
Crudup’s voiceover smothers everything, early and sometimes, explaining a number of particulars in regards to the film’s star-crossed lovers in methods that can be overbearing and but, in the end, reveal nothing. That’s as a result of there are not lots to those characters, which is obvious after spending 90 minutes with them, which is one thing you gained’t need to do.
Director Collin Schiffli’s movie, from a script by Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari (who’re credited among the many many writers of “Ant-Man and the Wasp”), strains to be an edgy and profane tackle “Romeo and Juliet,” albeit with the potential of a happier—and bloodier—ending. Diego Boneta and Alexandra Daddario star as Ben and Mary, who’s stunning and rebellious however lethal boring. Each is the black sheep of rich households whose uptight patriarchs are longtime rivals within the movie’s clearly Toronto-as-New-York-Metropolis setting. However as we are taught from Crudup’s narration over a vibrant and brash opening animated sequence, these two have been on a collision course with one another from an early age.
Ben likes to choose fights—723 of them since he was 5 years previous, all of which he’s misplaced: “Successful was by no means the purpose,” we’re instructed. In the meantime, Mary’s been kicked out of each posh prep college within the metropolis, prompting her mother and father to ship her off to boarding college in Paris, the place they thought she’d get into … much less bother? Appears unlikely, however no matter, the story wanted an impediment to maintaining these two aside. They fell in love as youngsters, and that was an issue.
So Mary’s dad (John Ralston) employed the creepy and intense Terrence (Justin Chatwin) to befriend and spy on her whereas she was overseas. (His title, together with these of all the key characters, seems on display screen in large block letters after they’re launched, certainly one of Schiffli’s many annoying, in-your-face stylistic touches. He’s additionally keen on random break-up screens.) Now that Mary has returned to Manhattan in her mid-20s, she finds herself caught between her longings for the estranged Ben and her craving to get as distant as she will from the clingy Terrence, whom her dad needs her to marry. Ben additionally needs to reconnect with Mary, regardless of—or maybe due to—how disruptive this could be to their respective households. That is just about all “Die in a Gunfight” is about: It’s a love triangle during which you couldn’t probably care much less whether or not anybody will get collectively.
Schiffli’s snarky and snide self-aware tone shortly grows wearisome, and his motion sequences have a cheapness about them that’s distancing; they’re virtually laughable however by no means so-bad-they’re-good. His movie is loaded with frenetic, incessant fashion in the hunt for substance; it’s an enormous departure from the stark naturalism of his 2019 drama “All Creatures Here Below.” In the meantime, the romance at its heart—which in concept is supposed to supply some kind of emotional core amid the shouting and the gunfire—has no spark. Boneta and Daddario share woefully little chemistry with one another, whether or not they’re getting reacquainted at a late-night diner or making out within the bedroom of Ben’s grungy-chic condo. Their exchanges are unusually languid and devoid of any actual ardor. For a supposedly lifelong, forbidden love, they appear tired of one another.
A half-baked subplot involving an Australian murderer (Travis Fimmel) and his amorous girlfriend (Emmanuelle Chriqui) is a bit livelier—they’re swingers, so naughty!—however they really feel extra like a set of quirks meant to shock us than actual folks. By the point Ben begins spouting banal platitudes about how he’s sick of being ready for his life to begin, we’re greater than prepared for the film to finish.