by George Wolf
If you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to pitch your idea of re-making The Town as a coming of age drama, too late.
Writer/director Kevin McMullin beat ya to it with his first feature Low Tide, a nifty debut that leans on plenty of heist tropes cleverly downsized for teenage conspirators.
Alan (Keean Johnson) and Peter (IT‘s Jaeden Martell) are New Jersey brothers with roots in the fishing district. Mom has passed on so while Dad’s away working a boat, Alan breaks into houses with his goofy friend Smitty (Daniel Zolghadri from Eighth Grade) and scary pal Red (Alex Neustaedter).
The gang ropes young Peter in for his first job as lookout, but somebody snitched. Sergeant Kent (the always reliable Shea Wigham) gives chase just as they’re leaving the latest B&E, and not everyone gets away.
Not everyone knows about the very valuable score some of the boys found in that house, either, which leads to plenty of suspicion among thieves.
Plus, one honest to goodness buried treasure.
McMullin blends his genres well, creating an ambiguous time stamp that can resonate with various demographics, and indulging in some noir fun without collapsing into full Bugsy Malone territory.
We’ve been watching the talented Martell grow up since his St.Vincent breakout five years ago, and his thoughtful turn as the smart, cautious Peter shows his transition into adult roles should be a smooth one. The kid’s just a natural.
And it’s not just Martell. There’s not a weak link in this ensemble, giving McMullin plenty of room to pursue his vision with inspired confidence.
If you’ve seen even a few heist dramas, the only things that may surprise you are the age of these bandits and how little you fault the film for its familiarity.
Attempting to define the moment when a young life chooses the path it will follow is not exactly a new idea. By wrapping his teen characters in recognizably adult archetypes, McMullin keeps the drama just a hair off-kilter, rewarding our continued investment.
As Sergeant Kent tells one of the boys, “This is your origin story. You gonna be the good guy, or the bad guy?”
Low Tide makes it fun finding out.