Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

There was some concern as the first images of Sony Home’s ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ scrolled across my television screen, as the semi modern tones of some acoustic guitar was melodically playing in the background, while the character of Duke (Brian Gheraghty) was proselytizing to his fiancée Amber (Jenna Dewan) about how better things are soon to come. Not knowing what the movie is about as I rarely know what movies I’m about to watch are about since I usually just grab a disc and throw it into the player, I’m thinking how I’m not really in the mood for a slow moving indie love drama about pretty white kids trying to make it through tough times. Then in like the next scene Christian Slater is torturing some dude which put my fears at ease since this scene let me know that my pretty white kids will soon be on the run from a psychopath. Much better.

Duke and Amber are a couple of young struggling kids living in some Podunk town outside of Los Angeles just trying to make ends meet. Tracy works at the town equivalent to Wal-Mart and Duke just tries to pick up day labor where he can. Down the street from their shack of an apartment where they can barely make rent, is a group of barrio bangers who seem to live to torture these kids by stealing what little they have and daring them to do something about it. Being as Duke has a bit of temper he often butts heads with these clowns, but when they break into the crib, steal his TV and beat up his girl in the process, well they have gone too far.

Across town police detective Pollen (Slater) is torturing some dude who is naked in a freezer because he has lost the dirty cops his money that was needed to complete a drug deal. The dude is trying to tell Detective Pollen that he was jumped by some gang bangers, but being the psychopath that he is, he doesn’t believe my man and decides to use Saddam Hussein techniques just make sure he’s telling him the truth. Fate it would seem is about to throw these principles together as Detective Pollen, along his dirty posse of cops, is on his way to retrieve his loot from the very same bangers who beat up Dukes girl, who Duke is also in route to a little visit. This leads to one of the issues I had with this movie, but more on that later.

As it so happens, everything goes straight to hell for Pollen and his crew AND the gang bangers which leads to Duke showing up and grabbing the money, getting his girl and heading out of town to make a new life. Pollen though managed to survive the shootout with the gangbangers and grabs the remaining members of his Dirty Cop Posse and sets about the business of getting his money back and will kill anybody who gets in his way, which leads to a game of cat and mouse between our karazy cops and our pair of lovable Gap models.

The only thing ultimately that matters to me after I watch a movie is whether or not was I entertained. In that sense I qualify ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ as a success as it certainly had more than enough for me to say it is at least that. Director Keith Samples keeps the action tight, lean and always moving briskly forward and was able to craft a tale that had a bit of tension and a couple of taut moments within its narrative. The performances were certainly above average with Miss Dewan, who is terminally cute, again turning in a good performance as she did the suspect indie horror pic ‘Tamara’, and she was even decent in ‘Step Up’, a film that made we want to slit my wrists. Brian Geraghty is another fine young actor and did well in his role, with the only issue being that these kids did seem a little too good looking and clean cut to be in the situation that they were in, no matter how much they tried to mess up Jenna Dewan’s hair. The centerpiece of all of this was Christian Slater who seemed to enjoy being the psychopathic cop entirely too much as he shot gang bangers, tortured dudes, and slapped around eighty pound women with unrestrained glee. I should also mention actors Tara Summer and Jacob Vargas who played a pair cops investigating the investigators who also turned in very nice performances.

Now that being said this movie is phenomenally stupid. Duke is approaching the ganbangers for revenge and finds some dudes chest filled with bullets outside their home. A.) something bad has happened or worse B.) something bad is happening. Either way, comeback tomorrow for your revenge. Don’t go into the house Duke because that’s just silly. I know if Duke doesn’t go into the house he won’t see the loot and there won’t be a movie, but surely there was another way. And Duke, when leaving town don’t buy a bright orange ‘57 Chevy. Perhaps a ’96 Taurus would be more appropriate and attract less attention. And Duke, don’t rent a car and certainly don’t try to buy a home with 100,000 cash. And if you do have a few hundred grand in cash, put it in a safe place and don’t leave it open in the hotel living room where an adventurous room service waiter might see it. I have four dollars to my name right now, and I have THAT safely hidden. You would think that Duke is stupid, but he is actually a mix of Barney Fife and Sherlock Holmes as he gets to solving even the most complex puzzles tossed his way.

Anyway, these problems aside, major though they may be, ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ was still entertaining to me. If you like crime flicks, shootouts and psychopathic cops, then I’m guessing you will probably see past these considerable flaws as well.

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