Dead Reckoning (2020)

Nearly four years after production, this romantic thriller inspired by a real-life event has finally arrived and it’s better than expected.

Six months ago, Tillie’s parents were killed in a plane crash. Forced to live with her aunt, the memory of watching her parents before their death still haunts her and she lashes out in anger. However, as the 4th of July draws near in Nantucket, she may have found happiness in the form of Nico, a young high school graduate and cab driver who comes from the Middle East and made a name for himself as well respected among the party crowd. Soon enough, Tillie and Nico begin a romance as the two reveal their similarities in losing their parents.

Marco is a terrorist who has come to Nantucket with plans to blow up the annual 4th of July party on the beach. FBI agent Richard Cantrell, who is Tillie’s uncle, has arrived in hopes to find Marco. To make matters worse, Marco is revealed to be Nico’s older brother. Nico feels uneasy when Marco makes his plan known. When Marco is being hunted down, a series of events occur that threaten more than the end of Tillie and Nico’s romance, but Nico finds himself faced with the ultimate dilemma when it comes to loyalty.

Originally shot in 2016, for one reason or another it took a few years to finally get this film released and in some ways, it brings a sense of redemption on the part of director Andrzej Bartrowiak, who will be forever known for his collaborations with Jet Li, Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 the Grave. Here, we have not a martial arts action film at all, but a story of a romance threatened by loyalty via terrorism. The film was inspired by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and based on the facts, there are similarities but also lies an important twist.

Most of the film focuses on the romance between Tillie and Nico, played respectively by Kite’s India Eisley and Riverdale’s Archie himself, K.J. Apa. The two characters have different personalities but while Tillie tends to show angst as she still reels from the death of her parents, Nico is more of a carefree immigrant who is finding life in the U.S. great. One can only say that with this film being shot around the time he was cast as Archie in Riverdale, we would have gotten a precursor of Apa’s talents after A Dog’s Purpose. As for Eisley, she shows the emotional angst she displayed in Kite but a bit amped up due to the fact she finds herself watching the final video from her parents just as she sees them end up killed. Tillie sees Nico as the happy crutch she truly needs to help her get through things as he too has experienced the same fate involving his parents, but under different circumstances.

The legendary James Remar plays FBI agent Cantrell, who is hellbent from the beginning on why he’s going after the terrorist in question. We soon learn that he is the brother-in-law of Tillie’s father and one-time fellow military soldier. Throughout the film, we see Remar question various people throughout Nantucket to see if they have seen the terrorist in question. Oh, should it be mentioned that the terrorist Marco is played by none other than one of the “busiest actors in the industry today”, Scott Adkins? Yes! At first sporting an Undisputed III-opening Boyka look, we later see Adkins in his natural look complete with Middle Eastern accent. Sorry fans, he doesn’t do his martial arts stuff here and that’s a good thing. The film gives Adkins a chance to do more grounded combat while continuing his acting range. He has two major action scenes, one against Remar and a surprising one against Ellie Cornell of Halloween 4 fame, as Tillie’s aunt.

Dead Reckoning is better than expected and brings a sense of redemption for director Andrzej Bartrowiak, thanks in part to some good chemistry from India Eisley and K.J. Apa as well as seeing Scott Adkins continue his reign as one of the busiest actors in the film industry today.

WFG RATING: B

Shout! Studios presents a Moody Independent production in association with Productivity Media. Director: Andrzej Bartrowiak. Producers: Andrzej Bartrowiak, Jeff Bowler, Kristin Alexandre, Mark Donadio, and Miriam Marcus. Writers: Kristin Alexandre and A. Wayne Carter. Cinematography: Vern Nobles Jr. Editing: Cody Miller.

Cast: India Eisley, K.J. Apa, James Remar, Scott Adkins, Ellie Cornell, Sydney Park, Devon Diep, Patrick M. Walsh.

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