My favorite scene in the heist thriller “Out of Exile” takes place in an arthouse cinema, supposedly in Dallas.
An FBI agent (Ryan Merriman) meets a biker-looking “CI” (confidential informant) played by Jake Roberts.
You think to yourself, “Hey, I don’t see his python, but isn’t that wrestler Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts? Never pictured him for a…silent cinema buff.”
Hand it to Oklahoma filmmaker Kyle Kauwika Harris. I have never ever seen an informant meet-up staged at a showing of a silent film. Sure, it makes no damned sense, if anybody else shows up for the movie. I mean, they’d hear every word these two mugs said.
On the other hand, getting Texans to show up for a silent film outside of The People’s Republic of Austin might be the point. Meet in a place nobody goes to? An art cinema!
That’s kind of par for the course for this uneven to barely-watchable “one last job” genre thriller. A couple of half-decent scenes pass — of an armored car robbery, an argument at a strip club, a session with a parole officer — and then something so clumsy invades your field of vision that you shake your head.
It’s bad. The plot is strictly formula. The dialogue averages a cringe every five minutes.
“Why are you referring to him for?” may be a blown line. But “Are we not the F.B.I.?” was bad on the page. Not as trite as “The man, the myth, the legend.” But close.
Our writer-director gives deep thoughts to bit players and terrible lines to weak actors or non-actors. But even the experienced pros oversell, overplay and ruin Southern fried fortune-cookie quotes.
“The past ain’t never where you think you left it, boy.“
The lead is almost a non-presence. Adam Hampton is big and bearded and intimidating. Until he opens his mouth. “Soft spoken” tough guys need a bit of a growl to work, there hoss.
He plays an ex-con leader of a crew of three. Kyle Jacob Henry plays his combat vet younger brother, the “hothead” new to this robbery business, and is so over the top that he just BLOWS UP at least once in almost every scene.
And the F.B.I. agents played by Merriman and Karrie Cox don’t have the presence to compensate for bad dialogue, stupid scenes stuffed with badly-handled exposition and the like.
Agent Solomon (Merriman) is hailed at the F.B.I. office by an older higher-up that he’s on a first-name basis with. They chat for a few seconds, before the older non-actor explains to THE AUDIENCE that “I was a friend of your father,” as if his pal Merriman forgot, and goes into some nonsense about “bitter lesson learned at Waco,” just long enough to make one wonder, “Is that dude one of the investors in this stupid movie?” He gets punched-out later, so maybe not.
Pointless scenes are scattered in with those that advance the plot, but even the ones designed to flesh out the characters via cliches — the abused daughter our gang leader lost track of in prison — just set one’s teeth on edge.
The most experienced actor of the lot is veteran heavy Peter Greene (“Pulp Fiction”) and he’s as oily and menacing as ever.
But truth be told, I started scratching my head right from the start of “Out of Exile,” when three gangsters with the showiest assault rifles this side of “Flash Gordon” rob an armored truck, get the drop on the guard with the bag coming out of the bank, load the bag into their getaway SUV ONLY to have the lowly-paid guard pull a small pistol out of his ankle holster on THREE GUYS WITH MACHINE GUNS.
Makes about as much sense as everything else. But hey, at least Jake “The Snake” got to see a silent movie.
Rating: R, violence, profanity, smoking
Cast: Adam Hampton, Ryan Merriman, Kyle Jacob Henry, Karrie Cox, Hayley McFarland and Peter Greene.
Credits: Scripted and directed by Kyle Kauwika Harris. A Saban release.
Running time: 1:47