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1 review, 6 user ratings

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by Jack Sommersby

"About as Creative as Its Title"
2 stars

It's really no different or complex than any TV-movie on the subject.

Superb performances by a talented cast manage to sustain a fair amount of interest but not enough to elevate Felon above anything other than a disappointing mediocrity. Written and directed by veteran stuntman Ric Roman Waugh, the story concerns amiable small-business owner Wade Porter (played by Stephen Dorff) pursuing and accidentally killing a home invader with one swing of a baseball bat on his front yard; unfortunately, being that the victim was neither carrying a weapon nor killed inside the house, Wade is arrested and charged with murder. The public defender, however, with the help of a sympathetic DA, manages to downgrade the charge to manslaughter with a three-year sentence with credit for time served; Wade takes the deal, but, predictably enough, this isn't the end of it -- and this is about where the film starts to suffer from plottiness with logic loopholes abounding, as well. For things to progress, Wade is made to be more than a little bit stupid: It's not enough that he didn't take the intruder's body back into the house upon realizing he was unarmed (surely any homeowner knows what's legal and illegal in this home-invasion area), but on the bus ride to prison he agrees to take possession of a blade used to severely injure another inmate (he's told to say he found it under his seat when he just as easily could have tossed it under the seat of someone else). When he refuses to name the inmate who gave him the knife, he's thrown into a hard-as-nails section of the prison called The Shoe where for one hour a day everyone's thrown into an indoor court where they fight one-on-one while the guards take bets on the winner. Soon Wade is siding with the Aryan Brotherhood to stay alive, trying to sustain his relationship with his fiancee and young son, and picking up another six years on trumped-up charges. As one can easily surmise by now, Felon is far from original and derivative of countless other films of its type; you can see the plot turns coming from a few zip codes away, with the human element mapped out in a predictable spectrum. Which is a shame because the film moves along rather assuredly, with Dorff, whose excellent performances in fear dot com and Covert One: The Hades Factor went unfairly unnoticed, proving himself again an appealing Everyman with both edge and tension. But the standout contribution is the mesmerizingly chameleonic work of an unrecognizable Val Kilmer as Wade's cellmate, a philosophical lifer who gradually warms to Wade and takes him under his wing -- at one point, he instructs Wade to accept that one's mind is the only prison. Overall, Felon is easier to like than admire, and even then you can't help but feel the whole thing is considerably more exploitive than incisive for the sole sake of disguising the imaginative bankruptcy at its core.

It's at least preferable to something like the overblown "Midnight Express", but that's about it.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17655&reviewer=327
originally posted: 07/16/08 15:55:18
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User Comments

3/01/11 brian Lost count of the cliches. Well made, though. 3 stars
11/28/08 M Exceeded expectations. 4 stars
9/23/08 Indrid Cold If a better movie has been made about prison, I don't want to know about it. 5 stars
7/20/08 Mitchell Hektic movie. loved it. such an exiting thriller. 5 stars
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  18-Jul-2008 (R)
  DVD: 12-Aug-2008



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