“Blackway” | Movie Review

Blackway (2016) 1Grade (C-)

Not even the great Anthony Hopkins and Ray Liotta can make this script rise above mediocrity.

“BLACKWAY” stars; Anthony Hopkins, Ray Liotta, Julia Stiles and Alexander Ludwig and is directed by Daniel Alfredson.

In this one a woman comes back to her childhood home in the rural Pacific Northwest and finds herself being stalked by a former police officer turned crime-boss named Blackway played by Ray Liotta. When the local authorities fail to help this woman, she gets assistance from a former logger and his young protege.

I am always a sucker for a B-Movie with a solid cast. Hopkins and Liotta themselves can make a good cast on their own, but you add the reputable Julia Stiles and Alexander Ludwig, and this film had the makings of being a cold, somber, backwoods thriller. Unfortunitally there was a reason why this film didn’t get a wide release and after watching I can clearly see why.

First the good. Anthony Hopkins was very serviceable in his role. He gave his character an interesting combination of subdue and confrontational and he captured perfectly the feel of an older man who was not as physically capable, but with experience in life he clearly appeared to fear no man, even the dangerous Blackway. This was something I enjoyed as his performance created the most interesting character in the film and the one that wasn’t bordering on stereotypical.

Stiles and Ludwig were also good in their performances, but unlike Hopkins, they were not able to elevate the generic material they had to work with and despite their ability to give the story some decent characters they weren’t enough to carry the pace. There were some good scenes between the trio as they set out to find Blackway but they were far from impactful.

Liotta was okay but the writing for his character was extremely contrived and while Liotta had some fun moments with his trademark ominous personality, he wasn’t able to bring this story a viable antagonist. He had some enjoyable scenes as he Liotta’d-out but he also wasn’t able to make the most of the material to create a truly ominous villain and one you might actually think could win.

There were some visually appealing  locations and the setting of a cold, gloomy Pacific Northwest were effective. The major issues in this film, that being the script, didn’t create a tense, intriguing thriller to compliment the cast or locations. In the end this was a rather dull, boring film that started out decent and went nowhere quick. You can easily spot the predictability in the character-arcs as well as the plot.

Later in the film tidbits of information are given to spur some of the character motivations and instead of feeling lured in by them I just sat back and was like, ‘ah okay, that’s his motivation”. Instead of the larger impact the filmmakers wanted it to deliver. In the end “Blackway” was not horrible, was not very good, and simply turned out to be, forgettable. The third-act was a very been-there-done-that approach and the action in this story does help move things along, but are far from exceptional. If you like a good thriller, with dreary locations you may want to watch something else, unless you don’t mind sitting through an event-less story to see Hopkins perform.

Time: 90 min

MPAA Rating: R (For violence, menace, language and brief nudity)