Lights out

Lights out
Original title:Lights out
Director:Christian Sesma
Running time:86 minutes
Release date:16 february 2024
A drifting ex-soldier becomes a mercenary with the help of a just-released ex-con, pitting him against corrupt cops and hitmen who prey on him and everyone he loves.

Mulder's Review

Lights Out tries to make its mark among the ever-increasing number of low-budget productions, but struggles to find its feet. Although it benefits from a sympathetic cast and obvious efforts, the film fails to pack a satisfying punch.

The story centers on Michael Duffy Duffield (Frank Grillo), a former soldier haunted by memories of the war. The story unfolds as Duffy finds himself embroiled in a world of underground fighting orchestrated by Max (Mekhi Phifer), recently paroled and in search of redemption. The film follows a familiar pattern, reminiscent of films like Out of the Furnace and Warrior, exploring themes of military veterans and difficult individuals in search of a fresh start.

What works best in Lights Out are the antagonists, particularly mobster Sage Parker (Dermot Mulroney) and corrupt Los Angeles detective Ellen Ridgeway (Jaime King). Dermot Mulroney and Jamie King bring their roles to life, successfully embodying villainous characters. However, the film sins in other respects, in particular its use of repetitive drone shots and cityscapes, which contribute to a dull depiction of the action and fistfights in the streets. The choreography lacks creativity, and the decision to slow down the narrative with X-ray views during the fisticuffs adds little value.

Despite promising material, Lights Out fails to capture the essence of 1980s B-movies. In the past, films like this might have found a place in cinemas or as mid-range vehicles for established stars, but in today's landscape, they're relegated to streaming services. While not the end of films of this nature, Lights Out only manages to offer a few glimmers of potential within its contrived material.

Nevertheless, the film shows that it knows exactly what its audience is looking for, and is aimed at fans of action sequences. Frank Grillo's performance as Duffy, combined with the promised association with Scott Adkins, adds a layer of excitement for action fans. The film delivers on its promise to showcase Frank Grillo's physical prowess, with relentless bar brawls that are sure to please fans of this particular genre.

The plot, though in familiar territory, manages to capture the audience's attention with a straightforward narrative. The chemistry between Frank Grillo and Mekhi ,Phifer adds charm to the film, and the introduction of various secondary characters, played by an ensemble of talented actors, adds flavor to the overall experience. Despite a few flaws, Lights Out succeeds in delivering the expected action thrills, earning it a respectable B grade.

However, beneath the surface, Lights Out contains two contradictory elements: a post-war drama involving a soldier struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and loss of purpose, and a thriller featuring corrupt cops and the money they're owed. The intersection of these plots results in a convoluted narrative, which relies heavily on the performances of a willing cast to save the film from feeling like an energy overload. The filmmakers cut corners to meet the 90-minute running time, leaving the audience with a less-than-thrilling experience.

Duffy's character, played by Frank Grillo, is a convincing veteran struggling with trauma, but the film often sidelines these themes in favor of action sequences. The fight scenes, though cleverly choreographed, suffer from excessive editing, obscuring the clarity and impact of the action. Despite the potential of a well-crafted action drama, Lights Out loses momentum due to an overloaded plot and an overemphasis on action to the detriment of character development.

Lights Out fails to take full advantage of its promising elements, resulting in a dull, forgettable experience. The film's flaws, such as underused characters and unbalanced action, overshadow moments of potential, leaving viewers waiting for a more refined execution of the genre.

Lights Out
Directed by Christian Sesma
Written by Chad Law, Garry Charles
Story by Brandon Burrows
Produced by Brandon Burrows
Starring Frank Grillo, Mekhi Phifer, Jaime King, Dermot Mulroney, Scott Adkins
Cinematography : AJ. Rickert-Epstein
Edited by Alex Merkin, Brian Zwiener, James Kondelik
Music by War & Peace
Production company : Firebrand
Distributed by Quiver Distribution
Release date February 16, 2024 (United States)
Running time : 86 minutes

Viewed February 18, 2024 (VOD)

Mulder's Mark: