Final Shift, The

Reviewed By Jay Seaver
Posted 02/11/13 20:02:31

"You learn by failing."
1 stars (Sucks)

SCREENED AT THE 2013 BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FEST: "The Final Shift" is one of those movies that it's almost unsporting to review; it doesn't do anything well and likely only got a spot on this festival's schedule because it was made locally, but by the same token, nobody else is going to see it, so what's the point of thrashing it publicly? In an earlier age, the people involved would have been able to pretend it didn't exist after doing three or four better movies, but now IMDB and sites like this will unfortunately connect them to this thing forever. Sorry about that.

The plot is standard D-movie stuff - there's a secret army program to make physically enhanced soldiers, but so far the only successes, if you can call them that, are with the daughters of program head Col. Maslow (Robert Miano), half-sisters code-named Delta (Vanessa Leigh) and Alpha (Diana Porter). When a hitman (John Depew) makes his way in to steal the formula, he also winds up taking Delta with him. Six years later, they're working as a team (with Delta now going by "Margot"), and when their latest job gives them a lead on the spoils of a bank robbery, they wind up in the middle of a standoff in a diner.

That's all very unimaginative and all, but it's served as the skeleton for a good action movie before, but when the action is lousy, what's the point? And the action here is pretty bad; there's not a punch or other blow that actually seems to connect, and writer/director Depew tends to crank the score up during fight scenes so that the audience can't even be fooled by a well mixed/edited sound of impact. Gunplay is accomplished with cheap-looking CGI. It's all so fake-looking that it's hard for audiences to get caught up in the excitement of the action; it just becomes a clockwork removal of characters from the scene.

And it does move like silent clockwork; the only surprising thing is that none of the police or military characters break out "with all due respect" until there's less than fifteen minutes left in the movie. The one-dimensional characters often need that dimension described in exposition, the plot is driven by one massive coincidence and delayed by characters arbitrarily doing nothing, and the big twist toward the end is somehow both ham-handedly foreshadowed and awkwardly jammed in. Seriously, if Margot can do that, why isn't it in the plans earlier?

It's possible, perhaps, that some of the people involved might do better work with more resources and someone more skilled than Depew at the helm. Leigh and Porter, at least, are attractive and seem willing to put the effort in physically; one or two other actors have been cast in higher-profile projects, if in small roles. With any luck, "The Final Shift" will wind up being just dues-paying and practice, nothing more.

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