Tag Archives: Cam Gigandet

Rolling Thunder, Raging Vengeance


by Daniel Baldwin

DTV action maven William Kaufman (Sinners and Saints) returns for the third time this summer with a south-of-the-border extraction/revenger combo, Shrapnel. This time around, Kaufman is playing in another insanely tropey sandbox: “Dad has a special set of skills”.

Jason Patric plays military veteran Sean Beckwith, who lives on a Texas ranch with his wife and two daughters. The oldest of which, as per a frantic voicemail overheard at the start of the film, made the mistake of sneaking across the border into Mexico with a friend to party. Anyone who watches action flicks or TV shows already knows where this is going: she’s been kidnapped.

Beckwith attempts to go through proper legal channels to retrieve his firstborn, but there’s no help to be found. When pleas for mercy on TV just piss off the cartel responsible and result in them sending a hit squad to silence the family, Sean realizes that the only hope he has is to take the fight to them. Luckily, in true Rolling Thunder fashion, he has a former soldier buddy named Vohden (Cam Gigandet) who simply needs to be told to get his gear and tagalong for an assault on the cartel boss’s (Mauricio Mendoza) compound in Juarez.

What we have here is a pretty meat and potatoes modern Mexico-set action thriller. For better or worse, this is an inherently problematic subgenre that often centers around white vengeance (i.e. Rambo: Last BloodSicario, etc.). If you are willing to overlook that, Shrapnel does have some things to offer.

Patric is compelling as the ever-troubled Beckwith, who has doubts from the outset that his daughter is still alive and knows that even if she is, she’ll never be the same. Nor will his wife and other kid, after the ranch assault. Nor will he, for that matter. All of this plays on his face throughout.

Gigandet carries himself well as our Tommy Lee Jones but isn’t required to do much more than that. Other performance highlights include Kesia Elwin as Sean’s wife Susan, Guillermo Ivan as the main henchman, and the aforementioned Mendoza as the big bad.

It’s not the most original low budget actioner and it’s a step down from Kaufman’s own The Channel earlier this month, but if you’re in the mood for a solid little “Dad movie”, it’ll get the job done. While no Sicario, it’s certainly better than Rambo: Last Blood.

Trope-ic Thunder

Black Warrant

by Daniel Baldwin

What do you get when you make an action film that combines Tom Berenger, Cam Gigandet, the director of The Gate, and a story by actor Michael Pare? You get an undercooked terrorism-themed actioner. You get Black Warrant.

The story follows two leads: Nick (Berenger) and Anthony (Gigandet). Nick is a long-since-retired CIA assassin that’s been pulled back into the field to take out three high-profile targets in Tijuana, Mexico. Anthony is a seasoned DEA agent following a trail of breadcrumbs toward the same sinister folks in the wake of a bust gone bad.

If you’re thinking the two are eventually going to come together to take out their mutual enemies, you’re right. If you’re thinking that the film also holds a really big & silly twist, you’re also right. This is bog-standard, trope-filled stuff that is content to never rock the boat throughout on a narrative level. You’ve seen this before and you’ve seen it done better.

The good news is that, even after 20 years of working in DTV action, Tom Berenger still isn’t phoning it in. He gives Nick doses of humanity that you don’t often see in films of this type. He manages to be charming enough in the role that one doesn’t mind as much that he’s clearly too old to be playing it. One would assume that an earlier version of the project was meant to star the aforementioned Pare instead. Given that he’s a decade younger than Berenger, he might have been a better fit on an action level, although perhaps not a performance one.

Gigandet is equally engaging as Anthony, giving the film another performance that it doesn’t really deserve. The movie also gets an extra bit of swagger in the form of a cameoing Jeff Fahey. The cherry on top, however, is Helena Haro as female lead Mina. A chef pulled into the middle of all of this insanity, she is the shining beacon of light at the center of this otherwise lackluster affair. Haro is beaming with excitement and charm in almost every scene. She’s a breath of fresh air and her chemistry with Gigandet somehow manages to make their poorly-sketched romance work.

If it weren’t for the cast, the writing and pacing issues would utterly sink this. Black Warrant may not be a terrible film, but everyone involved has done better work elsewhere. DTV action die hards might find things to like, but all others should steer clear.

Shooting Blanks


by Brandon Thomas

Rideshare driver Nick (Cam Gigandet of Twilight and The Magnificent Seven) needs fast money to help care for his hospitalized daughter. Thankfully in the world of Blowback, there’s a seedy criminal underbelly that rideshare drivers know about.

Nick gets hooked up with a crew that includes an ex of his (Michelle Plaia) and her new squeeze, Jack (Randy Couture of The Expendables). Like clockwork, Nick is quickly double-crossed after the heist and left for dead. What follows is a meandering, undercooked tale of revenge. 

First thing’s first: Blowback was a chore to sit through. It’s a movie completely devoid of clever plotting or surprises. Instead, the entirety of the film is built upon genre cliches that have been done better hundreds of times before. Cliches and tropes can be fun and entertaining, but it helps to have good writing, directing, and acting to support them.

Gigandet and Couture are the big “names” in Blowback, and I’m having a hard time thinking of two other leads more boring than them. Gigandet has turned in some okay work in bigger fare over the years, but he’s not the kind of actor that can take weak material and beef it up through his performance. Couture, on the other hand, has never turned in a performance I would call good. The majority of his line readings feel like they’re coming from cue cards.

Director Tibor Takacs has been steadily working as a director since the mid-80s. He’s responsible for two cult horror favorites in The Gate and I, Madman. While these two films aren’t bonafide classics, they did show that Takacs knew how to approach genre with some style. This is not the case with Blowback.

The film is competently made, but only from a point-and-shoot standard. Takacs’s vanilla directing style here does nothing to help the already cheap feel of the entire production.

Blowback offers 93 minutes of nothing new in the realm of revenge cinema. Save yourself the time and put on Point Blank again. Or maybe one of the John Wick movies. Maybe Kill Bill would scratch that itch as well. In fact, any other movie would work out better than Blowback.