Death Waits For No Man (2017) Review
Stylish conversation-driven thriller with plenty to make it worth a look.
Death Waits For No Man is a 2017 thriller about a neon art collector who seduces a lone drifter into killing her abusive husband.
The lone drifter is a fascinating archetype in movies, the burdened anti-hero with a dark past who wanders the backroads in search of redemption or a life of anonymity, though naturally always ending up on the wrong side of trouble. A tabula rasa for any good screenwriter, he can become all things good or bad in a film. Such is the case for Armin Siljkovic‘s Death Waits For No Man, a stylish mystery that isn’t really what it looks like, or even what it seems to set up with its compelling start, shifting from a promising action thriller to a talky, character-driven film. That doesn’t make this bad. In fact, there’s a lot about this little film that surprises.
Uzal (Bradley Snedeker) strolls into town on a dark night and stops for a drink at the local pub, though soon finds himself in the cab of a pick-up truck with a knife-wielding sexual predator and after an act of self defense is looking to avoid police. That puts him in the care of Lily (Angelique Pretorius), a pretty blonde woman with a deep bruise under one eye who’s looking to shed her abusive husband of his mortal coil and wants Uzal to do it, or leave him facing the cops searching for him. He reluctantly agrees and when Sinclair (Corey Rieger) arrives home, Uzal – under the pretense that he’s an old friend of Lily’s willing to film the couple having sex – becomes caught in a snare that has him playing two sides in a twisted game.
At 80 minutes, Death Waits For No Man is a practice in economy, wasting little time in getting Uzal’s foot in the proverbial trap. After a menacing start, which establishes much about what Uzal is capable of – and a bit of where that comes from – the game begins with a desperate Lily putting the pinch on him in hopes he’ll save her from Sinclair. Siljkovic does best in these early moments, giving these characters plenty of places to go, the three each shedding layers that offer some tricky footing in knowing where to put our sympathies. Lily and Sinclair are not a healthy couple yet what we accept as obvious about their relationship from the start begins to fracture as the film builds toward the third act. This leaves Uzal – whose name is Hebrew and in loose terms means to wander or depart – trying to keep balance as plans crumble. All he wants to do is stay alive.
Siljkovic, who also wrote the screenplay, flips things about maybe a few too many times, but at least the cast commits and while Uzal is a purposefully sotic character, Snedeker gives him a throaty, somber presence. We never learn much about him, aside from hints of a troubling incident while in Baghdad, but Snedeker clings to the tropes in all the right ways. Pretorius and Rieger are equally good and despite some lulls, find some nuance. What’s better though is Siljkovic’s creative direction, the neon colors offering a lot of arty edge to the whole thing, not to mention some nice flare for transitions. It’s not really what you might expect in this kind of film, but it somehow works and kind of gives the movie a jazzy neon noir-ish flavor.
Death Waits For No Man is an ambitious effort, one that tries to pull the rug out from under the viewer by its end though not everyone is going to get tripped up, especially as there’s a lot here we’ve seen before. Still, credit goes to Siljkovic for doing as much as he does with his limited budget. This is a good looking and well-acted night at the movies with plenty worth a recommendation.
Death Waits For No Man is expected to release this fall.
Death Waits For No Man (2017) Review
Movie description: Death Waits For No Man is a 2017 thriller about a neon art collector who seduces a lone drifter into killing her abusive husband.
Director(s): Armin Siljkovic
Actor(s): Angelique Pretorius, Bradley Snedeker, Corey Rieger