Last year, a film came along by the name of Hell or High Water and took critics – and audiences – by storm. Understandable really, as it was a truly exhilarating thrill-ride and an effective modern twist on the western. Modern westerns aren’t particularly original, but Hell or High Water worked. It oozed cool, great depth, action, brilliant writing…everything. But so did a little film called The Hollow Point, which was inexplicably met with a rather less-than-friendly critical reception upon its release. As it is being quietly released on DVD, and sure to be lost to the annals of film history unless it gets some attention, let’s try and get it the audience it deserves.
Sheriff Wallace (Patrick Wilson) returns home to his crime-ridden border town to try and tackle the illegal trafficking of ammunition into Mexico, a task that the rather unprofessional old sheriff Leland (Ian McShane) failed to do. Wallace’s first job is to track down Ken Mercy (David Stevens), a young criminal who’s gone missing with a truckload of cash following a failed ammo delivery. Upon finding him mid-torture, he uncovers a web of danger as he encounters a violent, machete-wielding assassin with a very strict hitlist.
The Hollow Point’s plot is the film’s first positive. It’s remarkably tense and had me on the edge of my seat throughout the brisk 90-minute runtime. The film has some unpredictable shocks in store – one of which happens early on and changes the rest of the film for one character – and creates a feeling of uncertainty. It’s the sort of film where anything can happen to anyone at any time, making it a thrilling viewing experience. The surprisingly twisty and effective plot is only complimented by some sharp dialogue from Nils Lyew’s screenplay, which when read by actors like these, sounds even better.
Patrick Wilson has made himself a pretty reliable hero over the last few years, ever since he donned the mask and cape of Nite Owl way back in 2008’s Watchmen. The man seemingly hasn’t aged a day since then, although troublingly he still hasn’t made the big time and exists mainly in these indie thrillers. Nowadays he just feels like a budget Chris Pratt, despite being far superior. Anyway, the rest of the cast are good too – John Leguizamo is terrifying as the volatile assassin and Jim Belushi makes a wonderfully slimy car salesman. But this film belongs to the legendary Ian McShane. Channelling his inner Al Swearengen once again, the actor is at home here as the dirty old sheriff and Deadwood fans will rejoice at just how much he looks and sounds like ‘Swedgin’ again – especially with a revival of that iconic series (hopefully) just around the corner. Come on, David Milch. Don’t tease us.
The Hollow Point is a very confidently made little thriller that packs a strong punch. Visuals are bleak but energetic, the thrilling plot moves along quickly and violently, the acting is top-notch, the script is great, the music is good, the direction from Gonzalo López-Gallego is superb…I honestly cannot see why this film was so panned. Much like Paul Schrader’s recent Dog Eat Dog, I get the impression that critics don’t even watch these films and make a harsh judgement based on, I don’t know, their poster? Their cast? Who knows. Sure, these films are never going to be Oscar winners or classics, but they’re damn entertaining while you watch them. Can you really ask for more?
The Hollow Point is a fantastic slice of violent western thrills, and a perfect vehicle for Ian McShane to do his thing.
The Hollow Point at CeX
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