Juggernaut (NR)

Drama 105 min. March 9, 2018
By Simon Abrams
You can probably guess some of the shopworn plot twists and characterizations that define the familiar but well-executed indie neo-noir Juggernaut. This type of revenge thriller is practically archetypal: Byronic hothead Saxon (12 Strong's Jack Kesy) returns home after a mysterious years-long absence to investigate his mother's death and repeatedly butts heads with his estranged stepbrother Hank (Supernatural's Ty Olsson) and troubled father Leonard (The Visit's Peter McRobbie).

But writer-director Daniel DiMarco and his collaborators apply un-ostentatious, workmanlike skill to the generic tropes that fill out Saxon's story. Even Mamet-y one-liners like, "I got no beef with God; I don't go out of my way to please ’im either," resonate because they're delivered with low-key skill.

Key collaborators, like cinematographer Patrick Scola, help to foster a seductive dive-bar ambiance that makes you want to overlook DiMarco's distracting reliance on storytelling clichés, like how he only ostensibly hides his protagonists' motives by obscuring his actors' faces with partially silhouetted low-angle close-ups and/or over-the-shoulder tracking shots.

But the real secret to Juggernaut's success is DiMarco's choice to end scenes just before you might expect them to climax. Take Saxon and Leonard's first confrontation: Kesy's low-simmering growl brings out the best in DiMarco's deliciously pulpy dialogue. "You forget, Leonard,” he says. “I knew you before you were touched by God." But the seconds-long silence that follows Leonard's impotent retort — "They say time heals all wounds … that it's never too late to turn it all around" — is even more powerful.
Daniel DiMarco Amanda Crew, Jack Kesy, Stephen McHattie, Ty Olsson, David Cubitt Daniel DiMarco levelFILM


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