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October 14, 2014

Movie Review: Swelter (2013)

Directed by Keith Parmer

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

Smeary, shot-on-video photography. Internationally acclaimed martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme not lifting a finger. Situations that call for action being talked away. Yes, we're in the world of straight-to-disc low-budget action adventure films where, true to form, there's actually very little action. Those things cost money!

To whit: Bishop (Lennie James) is just a guy making an honest living as a sheriff in a Nevada small town hell hole called Baker. His memory is wiped clean due to a gunshot injury to the head. The town's boozy sawbones (Alfred Molina) warns Bishop that he may not have long to live, as one of the fragments could move inside his brain and render him a vegetable. What Bishop has forgotten, on account of his brain injury, was he was part of a hotshot group of professional criminals who raided a nearby Las Vegas casino 10 years prior to the tune of $10 million (the DVD sleeve SAYS $100 million, but this reviewer digresses). The big news is that said group, led by Van Damme has been sprung from prison and are on the way to reclaim the missing millions.

As the title suggests, Swelter tries to cash in on its modern-day western setting by conjuring up a sweaty, claustrophobic atmosphere. It just doesn't get there. All of the bad guys insist on wearing heavy, black suits in the manner of Reservoir Dogs and kvetching about the heat. (Those familiar with Southern California landscapes will see signs in the background that the film was shot in the winter time.) Characters roam from one shabby interior setting to the next, the extensive dialogue not furthering the plot …

Any credibility that the film had was shot from the get-go. The character of Bishop, suffering from major memory loss and no background would never be put in the position of a sheriff, no matter how small the town! Anyone with the most minute knowledge of law enforcement – especially in this day and age, would know that any such “man with no past” would ever wind up in a position of power.

Altogether, Swelter is nothing to write home about. It's no better and no worse than countless other low-budget action pics that go straight to disc. An interminable 110 minutes, this reviewer did note that they were unable to find any positive critical blurbs to promote the film at a time when countless self-proclaimed movie critics online would gladly say something to earn their name on a DVD cover. Proceed with caution.

The Swelter Blu-Ray comes with interviews, trailers and French language dub track.

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