Laurence Fishburne, Thomas Jane, Ella Ballentine
“…honest and unflinching; it pushes boundaries ever so gently…”
Writer/director, Adam Alleca, clearly doesn’t like wasting time. In his debut feature, Standoff, Alleca has all his pieces in place plot wise within the first ten minutes. A young girl is a witness to an assassination attempt at a funeral by Laurence Fishburne’s Sade. With his face seen, Sade chases the young girl into the home of ex-military man, Carter (Thomas Jane). Within moments, Carter has taken her under his wing and, after a swift gunfight with Sade in which both are injured, finds himself in a standoff in his own home. Downstairs awaits Sade with a fair arsenal, whilst Carter hides upstairs with only a shotgun and one cartridge. As the day drags on, both men exchange words instead of bullets, as Sade tries to convince Carter that the girl must die.
Standoff starts off fast, and whilst the pace certainly drops once Sade has crossed Carter’s threshold, the film doesn’t suffer from doing so. Fishburne and Jane bristle off each wonderfully in a script that sees them trading insults and backstory whilst a little girl’s life hangs in the balance.
Expectations for any kind of subtlety should certainly be checked at the door as Alleca tries, perhaps a little too hard, to emphasise that these men are two sides of the same coin. He literally all but has Fishburne cry, “We’re quite alike, you and I.” But histrionics aside, Standoff still has a lot to offer, with Thomas Jane giving a grounded performance to clash with Laurence Fishburne’s own over the top one. A special note must be made of Ella Ballentine as the young girl caught up in the centre of all this machismo and bravado, who has to deal with some mature emotional responses.