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The Pro Bono Watchman

Critic:

William Hemingway

|

Posted on:

20 Apr 2022

Film Reviews
The Pro Bono Watchman
Directed by:
Ray Spivey
Written by:
Ralph Cinque
Starring:
Mike Gassaway, Kariana Karhu, George Welder, Kelli Ball Grant
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Hank Cassidy (Gassaway) is a good ole boy. He used to be a hotshot lawyer and in his heyday they used to call him 'Cut-throat Cassidy'. Nowadays he spends his time looking after his sick wife, Lilian (Grant) who is bedridden with ovarian cancer. Hank likes fixing every single problem that he comes across, and being a good ole boy he always carries a gun on him, whichever situation he is in. He promptly uses his gun to break up a rowdy pool party going on next door and readily earns the respect and gratitude of his neighbour, Clay for it. Good ole Hank.

 

Clay has also come over looking for a favour. His granddaughter is about to start receiving visits from her errant father who has been granted rights to see her. There needs to be a monitor present while these visits take place and Clay thought Hank would be the perfect man for the job. So did Hank. So, with everything set up, Hank meets Lemarcus Gentry (Welder), a silver locked felon and wife-beater, and begins his job as 'Watchman' for the six year old Bonnie (Karhu).

 

As the film progresses the bonds develop between the three main leads and Hank finds himself drawn into a tangle of conflicting emotions as he constantly strives to do the right thing. Thankfully Hank, being who he is, has absolutely zero self-doubt and sees clearly how to help everybody for the best in every situation ever. Sometimes with his gun.

 

The Pro Bono Watchman takes a very strange turn in the second act when a new character is introduced and the plot exponentially thickens. Talk of hypnosis and mescaline dosing signals a serious left-turn for the rest of the film and ultimately makes a mockery of what was already a pretty subpar movie.

 

The production and direction from Ray Spivey never suggest anything other than a low-budget TV movie, while the script from Ralph Cinque keeps everyone spouting expository statements to each other, even in what are supposedly intimate moments. The actors never seem real in any of their interactions, especially with the way the adults talk and play with Bonnie, and Gassaway's ham acting in particular comes across as way over the top. Throughout the film the dialogue tends to feel empty and prescriptive with no room for the actors to imbue it with any real feeling, and the end result is a boring slog for the audience, listening to staccato conversations which don't play well on screen.

 

If you stick long enough with The Pro Bono Watchman you eventually get a rounding out of the story and a definite, if rather traumatising, resolution. But in amongst the rest of it, as well as the strange musical interludes that have the feel of a Garth Algar dream sequence, there's not enough to keep the film from straying into 'oddity' territory. It's only really worth watching if you want to see Hank go at every problem in his good ole way.

About the Film Critic
William Hemingway
William Hemingway
Indie Feature Film