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Why haven’t I heard about Standoff before? Who do I blame for this? I must correct this mistake.

Please help me in this endeavor and go watch Standoff now while it is streaming on Netflix.

Standoff is a fucking fantastic movie with an unexpected emotional impact. This movie works because of the dynamic between the three main actors—Thomas Jane (as Carter), Laurence Fishburne (as Sade), and Ella Ballentine (as Isabelle). The premise is simple and self-explained in the title. This is a standoff between Carter and Sade with Isabelle stuck in the middle. It is good against evil.

Black Mask Killer

Larry Fishburne plays a sadistic contract killer by the name of Sade who dresses in all black with a hood for a mask. This guy really doesn’t like people seeing his face. It’s a big pet peeve. But when he is straight-up murdering a family at a funeral in the cemetery, Sade stupidly removes his mask to give a rousing speech before then finishing the job. Sloppy work for a trained professional.

However, Isabelle (a young orphan) was also at the cemetery and she just happened to be taking pictures—as sort of a coping mechanism. Isabelle was the only one left alive at the cemetery and she runs for her life to the nearest place, which is Carter’s farmhouse. The little girl was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but she stumbles into the arms of the right person at the right time.

Laurence Fishburne

The ensuing standoff is a tense thriller that hinges on the cat-and-mouse game between Carter and Sade. The desperation is palpable. Both parties have an objective and they are committed to carry through their mission by any means necessary. Although the movie takes momentary pauses, the pace is impressive. And the movie doesn’t overstay its welcome at an hour and a half.

I would like to think this is also a satisfying “fuck you” from Laurence Fishburne to anyone who says he’s lost something after settling in with a nice cushy network TV gig. How much scenery does Laurence Fishburne in Standoff? All of the scenery. There is devastation everywhere in his wake. It’s all gone when he’s done. The character of Sade is rich for that type of exploitation, and Fishburne does a masterful job of making this psychopath seem believable. He is a delightfully sick fuck in this movie.

Thomas Jane

Opposite Laurence Fisburne is Thomas Jane, who is equally magnificent. Thomas Jane doesn’t get the best roles in the best movies, but he’s always more than up to the task if given the appropriate material. I would believe Thomas Jane if he was cast as any type of character. In Standoff, Jane plays a troubled man named Carter who is haunted by his past and about to kill himself when we meet him.

Ella Ballentine

But young Ella Ballentine holds her own sharing the screen with these professional actors. This little girl is clearly capable of big things. That doesn’t always translate when child actors grow up, but she seems like a mini-Brie Larson—especially in terms of appearance. Isabelle also goes by the nickname “Bird” but she may or may not like it. This poor little girl has seen some shit and gone through enough heartbreak for several lifetimes. Whatever happens, you just want her to be okay.

Director Adam Alleca probably benefited from a trio of phenomenal acting performances. This is his directorial debut, but I would give any future project of his a chance based on this movie. Standoff’s story and pacing give this movie a little bit of style to raise it above the typical fodder.

Perhaps I enjoyed Standoff more because it blindsided me, but I genuinely believe there is something here for everyone to enjoy. At the very least, Standoff certainly deserves more than it’s middling 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It may not be an all-time great, but it is an entertaining thriller that’s grounded by an emotional core. Give it a try. Who wouldn’t enjoy this movie?

No One

4 out of 5 stars

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