Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

On first sight ‘Loaded’ seems like one of those Direct-to-Video, low budget, shot on tape, want to be gangster flicks that you usually end up sucking so bad that you curse the day you ever placed it in your Netflix cue. And though that’s not too far off the mark, it is far enough off the mark for me not to curse the day I placed the film in my Netflix cue. Though I can’t outright call ‘Loaded’ a good movie, as it is pretty far from that, but it has its charms and it definitely shows some potential.

Our movie starts with a little boy witnessing the brutal rape and murder of his drug addicted mother. Fast forward thirty years where detectives Devine (Lynn A. Freedman) and Roberts (Raymond T. Williams) are staking out a rather suspicious looking operation where some less than kosher looking dudes are loading Styrofoam coolers in a van. Usually you have one cop who is a loose cannon and another who is acts as the conservative one, but both these law officers pretty much qualify as loose cannons and decide to do a two-man raid on these dudes. Here they run into Bobby Leoni (Thomas Tamburello) who is a fast mover in the De la Cruz crime family and overseer of this particular operation. Our coppers want to know what’s in the coolers, Leoni declines sans search warrant, one of our officers puts a gun to his head which badass Leoni effortlessly takes it from her then allows them to see what’s in the coolers anyway. Fresh fish is all it is. Embarrassed Cops are sent home in shame.

Disgraced cops are now put under the watchful eye of the other badass in this film, OSI Agent Jason Boyer (Erick Gosse), and no, I have no idea of what OSI means. Agent Boyer is pretty intense about bringing down the De La Cruz family and is one of those cops that ‘doesn’t play by the rules’ in that he will even stoop to murder if necessary as a means to his ends.

Meanwhile Leoni continues curry favor with the insanely violent family head Nick De La Cruz (Steve Rad) much to the consternation of De La Cruz’s former right hand man Pepsi (Joel Bryant). Eventually everybody is going to have some kind of beef with someone, as well as everybody seems to have something to hide. And lest we forget about that little boy who saw his mother die in the beginning as he’s gotta show up somewhere along the line. I’m smelling a shootout.

There are some problems with this independently produced, but slick looking action thriller, and none of them have anything to do with Ron Jeremy being among the cast members. I think the main issue is that there are four dudes listed as writers for this flick which in no way shape or form can be a good thing. All these chefs in the kitchen have created a story that is literally all over the place and lacks focus. The core elements were basic enough, brutal mobster, out of control cop, good cop and so forth, but the story ventured outside those simple elements and it got a little too complex for its own good. The characterizations were also very sketchy since we never got to know much about Agent Boyer and why he was the way he was, and how Bobby Leoni gained favor with De La Cruz in the first place was a bit suspect. There were other frayed elements within the narrative, and the characters of this film, which could have used some trimming which I believe would have streamlined things and made the movie easier to comprehend.

The performances were hit and miss. Erick Gosse gives a good performance as Agent Boyer but still came off as a bit too ‘buttoned up’ to completely sell me on the fact that he’s this ‘outta control’ cop. Thomas Tamburello isn’t nearly as good an actor as Gosse, but he has an easy manner which translated better to the role he was playing. The best work was done by Joel Bryant as the sniveling Pepsi and definite honorable mention to Steve Rad who was almost Clooney-esque in style and charm as De La Cruz. I also thought some of the dialog and delivery in this film was really snappy, very clever and right on time.

As I said earlier, ‘Loaded’ is a film that has far too many flaws to be considered a ‘good’ movie, but director Ryan Parrott does keep this thing moving at a reasonably brisk pace, it is nicely shot and tightly edited and were the narrative just a bit more focused I can see where it could have easily been a ‘good’ film. It is good enough for me to be interested what these guys can come up with next. Anybody who calls their production company ‘Bulletproof’ seems to be interested in making the kinds of flicks I want to see.

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