REVIEW: River (2015)


2015, Well Go USA/Apocalypse Laos/Redlab Digital/XYZ Films

Jamie M. Dagg
Nicholas Sorbara
Jamie M. Dagg
Adam Marsden
Duff Smith

Rossif Sutherland (Dr. John Lake)
Sara Botsford (Dr. Stephanie Novella)
Douangmany Soliphanh (Douangmany)
Ted Atheron (Patrick Reardon)
David Soncin (Simon)
Aidan Gillett (Lachlan)
Karen Glave (Beverly Hartwick)
Vithaya Pansringarm (Chai)
Amphaiphun Phommapunya (Nang Chanh)

A doctor trying to do the right thing finds himself a wanted man in this fast-paced thriller from first time director Jamie M. Dagg.

Dr. John Lake is an American doctor in Laos helping out at a clinic run by Dr. Stephanie Novella. Despite his best efforts, John tends to want to go to extremes to do the right thing and save the patients. When his attempt to save such a life proves failure, Stephanie suggests he take a few weeks off to recuperate and clear his mind. Reluctant, John agrees to do so.

During his excursion, John heads to a small bar where he sees two Australian men chatting up with local ladies. After a conversation with the bartender Chai, John heads back but sees one of the girls on the beach passed out and sees the Australian man about to have his way. When John intervenes, he accidentally kills the assailant and when the body appears on the river, John must find a way to escape as he becomes a man on the run and attempts to go to the U.S. Embassy. If he makes it, will they be able to help him?

This film from first time Canadian director Jamie M. Dagg is a tale about doing the right thing and there are no real twists and clocks in at just 81 minutes before the final credits roll, making this nicely paced. Doing the right thing seems to be the case with the character of Dr. John Lake, played by Rossif Sutherland, who is the son of Donald Sutherland and half-brother of Kiefer Sutherland. Sutherland is pretty good in the lead role of John, who just wants to do the right thing. He wants to save lives whether it would be a doctor, or in the case of the film’s plot, protect a young lady from being assaulted.

However, the issue with John here is that he has a tendency to go to extremes despite his honorable intentions. The first involves John attempting to save a victim’s life in the opening of the film and when the victim has already flatlined, he still attempts to go at it despite the fact his superior told him it is too late. He’s the type who doesn’t seem to give up and this leads to him getting a chance to clear his mind.

The second and more important of the issues is the incident that leads John to intervene when he sees the character of Nang, played by Thai actress Amphaiphun Phommapunya, about to be assaulted. When John learns of the body of the man he accidentally killed pop up on the river, he ends up on a collision course trying to go on the lam with its setting of Laos as the backdrop. The film’s primary focus is John’s attempts to run and at times nearly getting caught, but somehow still makes his escape.

While the supporting cast are mostly in very few scenes, a nice cameo from the great Vithaya Pansringarm brings a sense of peace to the film as well as actor Douangmany Soliphanh, who plays John’s good friend who becomes the only person he can rely on when all hell truly breaks loose.

River is a fast paced thriller that just is about extremes of doing the right thing and the consequences of those extremes, thanks to a great performance by Rossif Sutherland. It is better than expected and definitely is worth a look at.


Well Go USA Home Entertainment will release the film on DVD and Blu-Ray on July 26, 2016. The Blu-Ray includes trailers for this film as well as King Jack, Kill Your Friends, and Partisan. To pre-order the DVD, click the image below:

River [Blu-ray]


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