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Misfortune (2016) Review

Slow burn thriller about a heist that impacts two generations.

Misfortune is a 2016 thriller about a young man, down on his luck, who learns about his father’s killer’s parole, setting off a cat and mouse chase through the hostile desert.

The legacy of a man’s past is often explored in film, but the legacy of that man’s father is a bit more rare. History can weigh heavy on a son when the actions of his dad lead to dark places. So it is with Misfortune, a crime film about a young man who must face the truth about his father and the man who killed him in a movie that may borrow from others yet finds ways to stand on its own.

After a heist between Roman (Nick Mancuso) and Mallick (Kevin Gage) ends up in a Mexican standoff, both are wounded but Roman doesn’t make it, dying at a desert crossroad where he was supposed to meet his son Boyd (Desmond Devenish). Mallick, who chased him there, is arrested, but ends up released early, and he wants the loot Roman stashed. He pays a visit to Boyd, who lives with his new girlfriend Sloan (Jenna Kanell), though finds Boyd is expecting him and soon a hunt for the buried treasure is on as Boyd, Sloan, and his their friend Russell (Xander Bailey) take to the desert with Mallick close behind. But that’s only the beginning of Boyd’s problems.

Written and directed by Devenish, Misfortune mixes a few genre tropes together as Boyd and his crew go on the hunt for a small fortune, not even knowing what they are searching for initially, only that it’s somewhere in the dust. This puts them in the desert and for a long while, just sort of walking around, scrambling through the dirt and stones. When that changes, naturally, things get more complicated as the players increase and the stakes rise, however Devenish is after the slow burn and plays out moments with a deliberate pace, keeping the action and dialogue mostly level as the story plays out. Devenish is more intent on developing his characters than loading up on big sequences, though the sometimes idle action can make for a leisurely feel.

Misfortune, 2016 © Gunnison Films

Devenish is a little better behind the camera than in front of it, building several strong moments that have great impact, including shootouts and a sharp opening with Mancuso and Gage. He knows how to tell a story well, threading together the action with some decent style. The story too is smart and while it’s not breaking ground in terms of originality, plays up the themes well, with a few clever twists.

Performances range with Bailey and Kanell coming off best though Gage does good work with his limited time. Misfortune is more about the atmosphere than the acting, a mostly quiet experience that is designed to be local, like a personal nightmare. Ambitious from the start, the film has nearly no score and avoids long-running dialogue, and while it experiments with some ideas, is nonetheless a solid thriller that if anything, reveals a director with plenty of potential.

Misfortune (2016) Review
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