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December 13, 2016

The Hollow Point

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Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego - 2016
Vertical Entertainment

It may not exactly be the second coming of Sam Peckinpah, but The Hollow Point comes thisclose. And it's not only the violence that will remind some Peckinpah's films, but the presence of Ian McShane as the just retired, small town sheriff. Hard drinking straight from the bottle, with a face that looks like miles of bad road, McShane bears enough resemblance to both Ben Johnson and Warren Oates that he could pass for a long lost Wild Bunch Gorch brother. McShane also has the best lines, cracking about being a dinosaur, while deadly serious about enforcing the law according to his own rulebook.

Patrick Wilson is the new sheriff in this southwestern border town where everybody knows everyone else. Depending on the point of view, the job is either a promotion or punishment. Investigating the smuggling of guns and ammunition to Mexico, Wilson quickly learns that going by the book won't stop the criminal activity that eventually involves those close to him. Not only does Wilson match his adversaries in his use of violence, but the film visually provides a correlative with several scenes taking place in near dark or heavily shadowed spaces, making it difficult at times to distinguish between cop and criminal.

Though the story takes place in a town near the Mexican border, the film was shot in Tooele, Utah. What Lopez-Gallego gets right is how the characters all live in modest homes that actually looked lived in, often cluttered, and uncheery. As it is, money is the root of all evil here, with evidence leading to the markedly aged Jim Belushi's used car salesman, a failure of a businessman who still manages his lot of unsellable cars and trucks, the most conspicuous of those on the payroll of the unseen higher ups.

The working title was The Man on Carrion Road. Aside from some of the action taking place on Carrion Road, with the three crude wooden crosses nearby, that title also signifies the predatory nature of the criminal enterprise. Getting pounded and pummeled is the least of the physical punishments that the characters endure here. Lopez-Gallego doesn't even attempt to make the brutality look artistic - it's bloody and very messy.

There is some unexpected invention in Juan Navazo's soundtrack which appears to have picked some of it's inspiration from Johann Johannsson's work on Sicario, with the electronically treated, occasionally atonal, score. The Hollow Point lacks the kind of philosophical musings usually found in Sam Peckinpah's films, but it's not entirely grim, with a couple of moments of humor. One lesson to be remembered is to not use a blow torch when uncovering a cache of bullets.

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Posted by peter at December 13, 2016 07:06 AM