Director Brian A. Miller, a director notorious for bad films (and making three of Bruce Willis’ worst career movies), fails to gain fortune by adding Sylvester Stallone to his repertoire in Backtrace.
This Sylvester Stallone thriller should be more interesting, more engaging and ultimately more entertaining. Yet the thing which lets it down apart from predictable plotlines, poor clichés and a thriller which does little to thrill, is the knowledge that there are films which do it better. Bungled heists are two a penny, memory loss a tried and tested means of gaining audience interest, but for them to work people need to care.
Despite Stallone headlining this film his involvement seems limited and director Brian A. Miller does little to make Backtrace anything other than extremely average. During the course of its running time I was distracted by Facebook, Instagram and anything else apart from these characters. Stallone does the best he can with his aging detective, while Matthew Modine fumbles through the whole fiasco suffering from headaches and bad dialogue. Yet from the opening gambit through to a finale of flying bullets Backtrace is only ever mildly diverting and adds nothing to the genre.
Anything which uses the opening credits for the purposes of exposition might sound clever but if that initial promise is not taken advantage of, a good soundtrack and cinematography mean nothing. Everyone involved was clearly after a pay cheque rather than choosing to invest their characters with anything approaching believability. Corrupt financial institutions, corrupt FBI agents and shady deals between convenient convicts add up to dramatic dead air in a film devoid of originality. On occasions like this it makes you wonder how such things get made as the redeeming features which ultimately save such travesties are never in evidence here.
Whether something got lost in the production process from script to screen, movie stars wanted more lines, bigger character arcs or simply more money, we will never know. However what is apparent from the off is just how leaden, pedestrian, bland and slovenly Backtrace ends up being. Stallone clearly did this to kill some time between medical check-ups or more high profile projects, while Modine seems to be slumming it along with everyone else who are never bad just bored. If you want a good thriller watch Nolan’s Memento or Raimi’s A Simple Plan with Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton followed by Three Days of The Condor. Not only will these be worth owning but more deserving of shelf space than this exercise in wasting your time and a whole load of money.
Written by Martin Carr
Directed by: Brian A. Miller
Written by: Mike Maples
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Ryan Guzman, Meadow Williams
Backtrace is released on Digital on January 7 and on DVD on January 14.