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SFF’14 Movie Review: “Hellion”

January 29, 2014

Screen shot 2014-01-29 at 7.15.54 PM

We’re now in a post-“Breaking Bad” world, many of us wonder what our favorite actors of the series will be heading off into next. For Aaron Paul he’s swiftly making his way to the big screen. With the release of the live action video game adaptation of “Need for Speed” coming out within a few moments, we’re given the testament of Paul branching out his dramatic chops in Kat Chandler’s feature length debut “Hellion”, based on the 2012 short film from the same name.

Jacob (Josh Wiggins) is a motocross and heavy metal obsessed, thirteen-year-old, whose increasing delinquent pose a threat to the stability of his family. One night Jacob takes his brother Wes (Deke Garner) on a joy ride with his pals, leading to excessive behavior, which forces the local CPS to place Wes (Deke Garner) into custody of his aunt (Juliette Lewis). Jacob and his emotionally absent father, Hollis (Paul), must finally take responsibility for their actions and for each other in order to bring Wes home. Jacob intends to win the local motocross race to prove his worth not only to the eyes of the community, but to himself.

What was easy to take away from this film was the brilliant chemistry between Josh Wiggins and Aaron Paul, a believable father/son dynamic. Considering the role Paul has made famous in the last 6 years, it may be hard to imagine that he can play the father of two pre-teen boys. But, he manages to capture the rawness of tragic parenthood. Sad and bleak is something he’s certainly familiar with, here plays a widow, lost, trying to find the way to be the best person he can be again, but being caught up in the shit that life has thrown at him inadvertently affects his kids.

Screen shot 2014-01-29 at 7.51.34 PMWhile the characters are admirable to follow, I will say that the movie does fall into the pit of familiar storytelling. Mainly the elements involving the character of Jacob. Here’s a kid that for the sake of losing his mother, becomes this rebel with a disastrous agenda. He’s bad, simply because he’s got nothing left in him, and I feel like this is something we’ve already seen in previous movies. The final outcome for Jacob may leave people split down the middle, it still had my head scratching wondering if his actions truly justify his potential redemption.

Kat Chandler is off to a well adjusted started as a feature director, she clearly knows how to handle a cast with heavy hitting scenes, and manages to cut the movie in a rapid way that doesn’t come off as tiresome or overzealous. The character development of Jacob may not be on par to the character of Hollis, which is ironic, since this movies central focus is on Jacob, but I believe this is a movie many audiences will get on board with, simply to see Aaron Paul reach farther in the cinematic realm.

GRADE: B

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