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Muskie Point film review


Written by: #IanSewell

Five men in outline drawing, one with a gun, all head up a mountain path to where another five men are waiting
Muskie Point film poster

Doyle has been a naughty boy. He’s been putting together his own deals and making a slice of extra cash on the side without paying his tribute to the local mob boss. Mr Mannericks, said mob boss, doesn’t like this at all and has tasked Doyle’s crew with bringing him in. So now he’s trussed up in the trunk of an SUV with a bag on his head and he’s on his way to Muskie Point, the drop-off meeting place that nobody wants to get to; the place that nobody comes back from.

However, Doyle’s crew are having a crisis of conscience and some of them don’t agree with handing over one of their own. Inevitably they bandy about the ‘Honour Amongst Thieves’ conversation between themselves as they drive towards the inauspicious Muskie Point, and we listen as they reason with each other about duty, loyalty and the way of the gun. The alternate crew, too, who are taking receipt of the doomed traitor, are also busy waxing lyrical about life in the mob game. They’re trying out their Tarantino-esque dialogue on each other; discussing the merits of keeping your composure in difficult situations, the idiocy of using side-gun action, and the usual nonsense of how many birds they’ve shagged or first responders they’ve killed. Eventually, after much deliberation, everyone makes it to Muskie Point, and as predetermined plotting would have it, things quickly go South from there.

What starts off as ten men, in two crews, sporting ill-fitting mobster garb, with names like Forrester (Sewell) and Abrams (McNaughton) and Edmonds (McKenzie), very quickly becomes a stand-off and a splintering into factions after some poor fool pulls a gun. From then on in, the plot becomes abandoned and the whole film descends into what is essentially little boys running around the woods playing at armies. What results is a series of smaller face-offs with pop guns where nobody really bothers to find any decent cover and where hundreds of rounds are fired without any consequence. Sometimes it seems as if they might as well have just made bang-bang noises with their mouths instead, for all the damage that they do. In amongst all of this we have to deal with the inescapable stand-off conversations between each set of antagonists as they face each other down, none of which reach the heady heights of the early, glib dialogue and which at times makes you wish that they would just shoot each other and get it over with. All of which leads us to the inevitable conclusion of just who makes it off Muskie Point. If you care at all.

The farcical nature of the running about in the woods is a real disappointment, as the rest of the film is actually pretty well put together. Right from the off the cinematography looks great with some fantastic slow aerial shots setting the scene before bringing us right up-close with our cast of characters inside their respective vehicles. With all three of the Sewell Brothers taking directing credits you can tell that this is a collaboration which really works. There is a real difference between the closed-in conversations at the start of the movie to the wide outdoor scenes that follow later.

The music, composed by brother Eric Sewell, offers a deep brooding that makes Muskie Point feel like a truly unsettling place with its 80’s synth style that mixes reminiscences of Commando and Twin Peaks. The characters themselves, despite all being basically the same prototype, each have their own distinct identity and are well played by the actors who inhabit them. The dialogue too, even has flashes of brilliance, though this tends to run out of steam as the film goes along. The only technical problem that really stands out is the over-dubbing of the sound, which makes everything feel muted and staged.

The Sewell Brothers may well look to have a future in film-making, though probably only when working together as a team. The directing duties are definitely their strongest roles in the film, as compared to their acting, writing or any number of other posts that they fill. They obviously have strong influences from Tarantino and the Coen Brothers, but in this instance whilst trying to make something like Reservoir Dogs or Miller’s Crossing, they have instead made something that bears no real relation to either.



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