Scramble is a 2017 action crime thriller about a man whose girlfriend is kidnapped by an underground prostitution ring, forcing him into action.
There’s nothing wrong with leaning on the styles of other movies, especially those that have become trendsetters. Many do it, and most only to cash in on a clever narrative that somehow managed to tell a story with some difference. Now comes Noah Scott‘s Scramble, a low budget action movie that is stitched together with a number of familiar tropes and stylistic endeavors we’ve seen many, many times before. It’s a movie with no lack of ambition or energy, working all too hard to be cutting edge. It’s just an edge used so often over the years it’s gone dull and limp.
Frank (Brett Newton) is your basic lovable loser, a guy who wears a checkered three-piece suit with a gold bowtie to a funeral, his scruffy hair and doe eyes making look like a naive nerd fresh off the carousel. It’s pretty amazing that he has a girl like Quinn (Marissa Von Bleicken), a beautiful blonde with a heart of gold. Problem is, her father just died and it turns out he’s made some bad calls in his life and is in debt to a very nasty crime lord/pimp named Dom Fertelli (Kevin McCorkle), owning him a hefty bundle of money. To get what’s he owed, Dom has his thugs kidnap the girl and rope her into prostitution, forcing Frank to do a few ‘errands’ for Dom to earn the money back and try to save Quinn. Teaming up with his pal Simon (Victor Kelso), he gets entangled with some particularly bad people as he struggles to get the money.
There’s no denying that Scott, in his feature length debut, loves the genre, paying homage of sorts to a whole host of offbeat crime thrillers, loading his film with calling cards we’ve all seen before. Working off a script by Amanda Glassman, the story is a curious mix of comedy, drama, sex, and mild violence with more than a ton of potential but becomes stagnated by rote dialogue and uninspired action, leaving the tonal shifts less than satisfying. Further stymied by several less than convincing performances, it can’t wriggle out from its own weight.
With a prototypical Asian gang and a masochistic duo of serial killers ticking names off a list joining the fray, and even a mystery box that glows when you open it, à la Pulp Fiction, the ingredients to a comedy-esque ultraviolet caper is well in hand. Unfortunately, is plays all to close to the middle of the road, not menacing or gruesome enough to be as dark as it wants to be and not nearly funny enough to work as a satire. Frank and Simon get involved with a guy named The Kid (Germaine De Leon), a wealthy druggie who enlists them on a series of jobs in order to earn the money Frank needs. Naturally, things go wrong and he and Simon wind up more than up to their necks. That’s all well-earned and there is enough momentum in getting there, it’s just that the film is cut off at the knees by lackluster action, poorly-delivered dialogue, and a painfully generic score, not too mention far too many contrived moments made much better in other movies. Fans of the genre may find some interest, but ultimately, this comes up short despite how hard it tries.
Movie description: Scramble is a 2017 action crime thriller about a man whose girlfriend is kidnapped by an underground prostitution ring, forcing him into action.
Director(s): Amanda Glassman
Actor(s): Courtney Gains, Chelsea Gilson, Irina Voronina
Genre: Action, Comedy