Movie Review: ‘Die in a Gun Fight’

Director: Collin Schiffli

Cast: Alexandra Daddario, Diego Boneta, Justin Chatwin, Billy Crudup, Travis Fimmel, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Wade Allain-Marcus

Plot: Two star-crossed lovers from rival news media families plot to elope, but first they have to survive the violent repercussions of their actions.

Review: I remember 2001. I was in film school. We idolised Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher and Guy Ritchie and would emulate their work in our own ham-fisted attempts and stylish and edgy crime films. But what if…what if I never left that path, and continued pursuing the dream of directing my own edgy, stylish and very, very ironic violent crime thriller dark comedy only to release the film into cinemas in the year 2021.

Well, I know longer need to wonder because Die in a Gun Fight perfectly captures everything from that era of cinema that aged poorly.

The characters are all quirky and edgy, and they all get introduced with a freeze frame and title card. The narrator seeks to captivate us with explanations of who they are, complete with smash-cut flashbacks. After the dozen or so characters get introduced this way over the course of 20 minutes, we’re left with very little to take away because we haven’t seen them do anything yet, or interact with each other. We’re just told things about them by a tired sounding Billy Crudup and expected to be intrigued. Some of it is animated because of how darkly ironic it is.

Our main characters are Ben Gibbon (Boneta) and Mary Rathcart (Daddario), who fall in love because of how much they stick it to the man and just don’t care who they upset. Their respective father’s own newspaper companies and are intense rivals. Before they can be together they have to contend with assassin’s lovesick bodyguards, other people whose involvement felt kinda vague, and through a comedy of errors they all end up in a big shoot-out at the end. A great deal of the runtime is spent waxing lyrical about how life is meaningless and their parents just don’t get it is a way that echoes the sentiments better delivered by Brad Pitt in Fight Club.

Actually, now I mention it, there’s more than a few things lifted from Fight Club overall. The colour scheme, use of slow-motion and the character’s perchance for getting beaten up are all highly evocative of Fincher’s film. Ben’s best friend Mukul (Allain-Marcus) is Tyler Durden-lite, dressing and behaving in a similar manner and doing edgy, anarchist things like stealing the coats from a fancy party and giving them to homeless people. They share a fallen down, manky old house together. Die in a Gun Fight feels like a cheap off-brand Fight Club in more than a few ways.

We’d be all for a fun throwback to a previous generation of cinema, but the whole ordeal is just exhausting. No scene of dialogue can play out unless it’s chopped and shredded in a way that could potentially induce seizures. We have one family eating a meal, so we have to cut back and forth with another family meal and the dialogue matches up…unless it doesn’t and we’re just rapidly cutting back and forth at the end of every line. And there’s split screen and whip-pans. And now they’re all jumping up and down on the table and hooting like monkeys. Except they’re not because it’s what they’re imagining with their cool, edgy outlook on, like society.

Setting up a scene where someone starts screaming or some silliness only for a smash-cut reveal that it’s just what they’re imagining and someone is waiting for an answer…that’s something they pull a couple of times in this movie.

For a moment we were into the idea of a nostalgia spike from the tail end of the century, but everyone in this movie is so thoroughly unlikeable that you can’t get on board with them. Ben and Mary are set up as counter-culture rebels, but come across like petulant children. There’s lots and lots of colourful and splashy style, but it is service of nothing. It reminds me of The Chumscrubber, a movie I haven’t thought about since it was released in 2005. Desperate to replicate the style of cult successes with absolutely nothing to say.

Rating: TWO out of TEN