Every fair minded person will find positives and negatives in this film. The woke will just bring their own weather with them.
Written and Directed by Kyle Rankin
Starring Thomas Jane, Radha Mitchell, Isabel May, Eli Brown, Olly Sholotan, Treat Williams, Barbara Crampton, Cyrus Arnold, Cindy Vela
There is much to admire about the ruthless way that Kyle Rankin treats the subject of school shootings in Run Hide Fight. The film’s star, Isabel May approaches her role as vigilante protector seriously without tongue and cheek. Her Zoe Hull is angry and sad at the death of her mother (Mitchell) from cancer. She is awkward with her friend Lewis (Sholotan) when their sold friendship is on the verge of something they’re not ready to face. It’s Senior Prank Day at their High School. The Prom is that night. She only wants out of her school. Wisely, she is reminded that no matter where she goes, she will still be there.
She has a decent relationship with her father, played by Thomas Jane? He teaches her things that most girls don’t get to learn, like how to hunt. There is a distance between the two, given the absence of her mother, but there is also genuine affection.
As the school gets under way, a series of bombings take place on different sides of town. By the time the fire and rescue heads to those places, the roads are blocked off. Then the attack on the school begins.
At first, Zoe tries to hide, but a misstep leads to the death of someone else. She scrambles outside, then prevents some kids from heading back into the building. After some internal debate, Zoe heads back into the school to help others in ways she has yet to determine. When the story follows her, the film succeeds for the most part.
The team of shooters / terrorists come off as alternately clever in planning and mostly idiotic individual when responding to changes in the plan. When the incident begins, the first 30 seconds is absolutely horrifying. Once the talking begins, the intensity becomes scuttled. An obsession with cameras and being broadcast seems like a different tact than had been experienced in past real events, it feels less like anything could happen than the shooters are sure taking their time
The response to the danger also alternates between the realistic and absurd. Some of the delays dissipate the tension, others actually work to tell the story in a mostly effective third act. The police tactics seem almost random, but sometimes this helps. Jane has a moment that is excellently performed, but seems entirely unlikely in the event of an actual lockdown. It’s a moment that every parent dreams of having for their loved ones.
It’s tough to sell this film as any sort of attempt to educate, but it also doesn’t treat humans as disposable. The psychology for some characters is spot on, but for others it is quizzical. The portrayal of mental illness is armchair, at best.
This is a good film, though. It is exhilarating to see May – anything but a super being – push through her fear and work her way through mistakes and fight. Even when we know the name atop the credits has to win, she’s not Conan-ing her way through each of the killers with ease. These moments take something out of her, but also build her up.
The cast of classmates and staff is really pretty good. Sholotan gives a nuanced performance as the perfect friend zone kid, who’s really a brave and decent person. His role deviates from caricature to someone who can keep calm in extreme circumstances. Williams Sheriff has some strange moments until he gets to call the leader of the killers. Several teacher performances are good, especially Vela and Crampton.
The villains, as mentioned before, are somewhere between Snidely Whiplash and Rosco P. Coltrane. The more exposition they give, the worse it gets. If they’d left it to one character, better. Let’s face it, though. There aren’t that many actors the caliber of Alan Rickman.
Isobel May has the skill to put this film over, and she does. She overcomes a hamstringing plot device of her imaginary mother and actually pulls the viewer into an emotional catharsis. Her portrayal is the best thing this movie has going for it.
Of course it goes without saying that if one has an aversion or triggered memories of a similar event, they should avoid this film. We are all adults, I hope, and can judge for ourselves. This film won’t encourage more violence in our schools any more than Glee encouraged high schools not to drop their music programs.
This film has the blessing and the curse of the director getting to express his complete vision. It gives a fresher take at certain times, and begs for editing during others. Fortunately the end result is way more entertaining than pabulum like The Marksman. See this and make your own judgements. Don’t listen to those that will hate it just due to the politics of its distributor, The Daily Wire. Every fair minded person will find positives and negatives in this film. The woke will just bring their own weather with them.
(***1/2 out of *****)