Movie Review: ‘Die In A Gunfight’

Review by James Lindorf

With “Die in a Gunfight”, director Collin Schiffli continues his trend of making films about troubled young lovers. On July 16th, he brings scriptwriters Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari’s modern take on Romeo and Juliet to theaters and On-Demand platforms, thanks to Lionsgate.

In “Die in a Gunfight”, Mary (Alexandra Daddario) and Ben (Diego Boneta) are our star-crossed couple. They are the latest generation of two powerful families engaged in a centuries-long feud. Meeting and falling in love as teens, the pair were forced apart, but they’re about to reignite their affair after several years apart. Their forbidden relationship will put a strain on the already tenuous balance within the families. The resulting fallout will pull in Mukul, Ben’s best friend, who owes him a life debt; Terrence, Mary’s would-be protector-turned-stalker; Wayne, an Aussie hitman with an open mind and a code of ethics; and his free-spirited girlfriend, Barbie.

Romeo and Juliet is the most classic love story ever written. It has been remade and reimagined in every medium over the last 424 years. Adapting such a famous story in a new way was a major task that Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari weren’t quite up to taking on. What they created was a grittier version of Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 “Romeo + Juliet.” The two films each have plenty of violence but “Die in a Gunfight” is just grimier with masochists, stalkers, and swingers. Every one of those elements could have been added, but the run time would need to be increased. Ninety-two minutes is not enough time to support the number of story elements and characters in DIe in Gunfight. There are plenty of movies that don’t have the most robust story but get by on their visuals and entertainment value.

It is easy to spot that Schiffli was influenced by renowned filmmakers like Guy Ritchie and Edgar Wright. Directors who are known for high energy, quick cutting, and making films that are distinctly them. Unfortunately, Schiffli still appears to be trying to find himself in this style. “Die in a Gunfight” is an earnest but poor copy of films like “Baby Driver” and “Snatch.” It has all of the key elements, but some are overly repeated while others are highly aggressive. Smash cuts complete with whooshing sounds, many scenes rapidly change their focal depth, and there are unique lighting choices, unexpected uses of animation, and an endless number of things. It is like someone handed Schiffli a list of cool film techniques, and instead of picking a handful, he picked them all, and it is just too much for the mediocre story to support.

“Die in a Gunfight” has a great cast and a team of dedicated filmmakers. There was tons of potential, and pretty much the only one who lived up to it was the animator. The performances are pretty decent all around but often over the top in a comical way which is fine if it’s one character. But like everything else, it was overdone, and nearly every character is cartoonish. I credit them for the attempt, but I was ready for this Romeo and Juliet to meet their end long before the third act. “Die in a Gunfight” gets 1.5 stars out of 5.

Rating: R
Genre: Action, Mystery & Thriller
Original Language: English
Director: Collin Schiffli
Producer: Jonathan Bronfman, Tom Butterfield, Mark Gordon, Martin Metz, Adrian Politowski, Allyson Seeger, Jason Ross Jallet
Writer: Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari
Release Date (Theaters): July 16th, 2021
Runtime: 1h 32m
Production Co: The Mark Gordon Company, JoBro Productions & Film Finance, Align, Digital Ignition Entertainment, Culmination Productions, Leeding Media

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