While it functions just fine as an acceptable directorial debut for Adam Alleca, Standoff’s screenplay (also written by Alleca) sadly fails to rustle up much interest in this bog-standard low-budget curio.
Following the death of his son and departure of his wife, war veteran Carter (Thomas Jane) has become a reclusive alcoholic, but when a 12-year-old girl (Ella Ballentine) arrives on his doorstep while fleeing from a ruthless assassin, Sade (Lawrence Fishburne), he finds a chance for redemption.
In fairness, this is a little classier than the trashy cover art suggests, though selling it as a high-octane action thriller does seem pretty disingenuous. You see, the vast majority of Standoff if set inside Carter’s home as Sade simply tries to convince him to give the girl up. It’s a decent enough idea, albeit one that quickly invites some immersion-destroying questions, and when other characters show up, credibility is flung irredeemably out the window.
Credit t0 Alleca for not screwing around and diving straight into the minimalist premise, and it’s easy to see why the movie might have been an easy sell for its actors; they essentially got paid for sitting around in a house for a week or two and moved onto their next gigs – what’s not to like?
Though it does mine some decent tension out of the stalemate scenario, it often feels like it’s juggling two different types of movie; Fishburne’s Sade is this hilariously hammy villain who completely undermines any genuine dramatic intent the movie might have, while Jane plays a stern, deadly serious sad sack with a tragic back story, and the two tones clash quite horribly on occasion.
Still, it’s nicely shot for such an evidently cheap production and the dialogue occasionally sings, even if it’s ultimately quite a rote exercise and not something you’ll remember soon after watching. That said, it’s super-short and certainly more compelling than had it been the straight-up action flick the cover art promised.
Standoff is available now on UK VOD