Blunt Force Trauma opens with two men preparing to fight in a pit. Only they aren’t fighting bare-knuckled, instead they are armed with high-powered pistols and wearing only a bullet proof vest for protection. Facing off against each other Western style they are playing a game of both speed and stamina as each reaches for their gun and blasts bullets into the others chest in an attempt to knock them off their feet. The rules are simple, if you can get back to your feet again within a time limit you carry on, if not you loose. Oh and you can’t cheat. That’s what one player did and ended up killing Colt’s (Freida Pinto) brother. Now she is on a revenge mission which leads her to team up with John (Ryan Kwanten) as they both travel the country and fighting in matches. Colt’s looking for her target and John is chasing after the mysterious figure who heads the games…
Despite a somewhat shaky premise I did think I was going to rather enjoy Blunt Force Trauma after having seen its opening scene. That first gunfight generates a lot of tension and narrative suspense, at that point we don’t really know what to expect or where the story is going to go. All we know is that there are two men staring each other down and that there is the very real possibility that one is about to die. It’s a really strong start but it is immediately followed by one of the film’s biggest failings when we are shown another gun fight. Then another. This is a classic set-up as seen in every other Western and it holds so much power, but this film overuses it and so quickly removes any tension whatsoever from those scenes.
The cast do well with some very hokey dialogue, Pinto in particular managing to make the most overworked lines sound something like the oneliners they were intended to be. Pinto in fact brings quite a lot to the movie, she’s smart, sassy and, although I wouldn’t say the movie is exactly a tear jerker, she is responsible for giving us a reason to invest in its story. Alongside her is Kwanten who also does a good job with the script, convincing as both the gunslinger and the man behind the gun. Although he cannot help that some of his scenes feel a little off (that I think is the script’s fault) and the chemistry between him and Pinto doesn’t always convince.
I’m pleased to be able to say that this isn’t the unimaginative cliché filled action film it could have been. It brings something a little different to the table, it takes the time to establish a central relationship which we can get behind and, perhaps most importantly at times it’s pretty thrilling. Unfortunately it doesn’t always hit the goals it set out for and falls somewhat short, however full marks for trying and to Pinto for her supporting performance. We would be interested in seeing how writer and director Sanzel progresses over time.
Blunt Force Trauma hits UK shelves today, will you be checking it out? Let us know in the comment box below!