Crime dramas with light action can work, if the characters are intriguing and engaging but that’s where The Long Way Back falters. Its characters just aren’t all that interesting to watch and because of the lack of interest, you end up not caring about the outcome. While the gritty and lo-fi style of film can add to down to Earth feel of the movie, the inconsistent editing and pacing just help create a more frustrating experience for the viewer.
Max is released from a term in prison and he goes about trying to get his life back together. Though it’s not without challenges–he’s fighting a heroin addiction while also having bad choices from his past catch up with him. As he gets settled into his new apartment, he becomes closer to neighbor Sara. It isn’t long until crime boss “Uptown Lucius” comes looking for Max and the money stolen from him. What follows is drab and at times infuriating film full of clichés and bad dialogue & writing.
While the actors themselves are okay in their respective roles, it’s the writing that ultimately hamper the performances. There are only so many times you can hear people just repeat what was just said. I kid you not, this is an actual exchange:
“I saw Max.”
“You saw Max?”
“Yeah, he’s in town.”
“He’s in town?”
“Yup, I saw him just walking down the street.”
“You saw him just walking down the street?”
This happens a lot in this film. Max Lyons (Denny Dale Bass) does well enough as the lead. Though one pain point would be that he’s not all that likable in a role that requires the viewer to feel for the guy. Sara (Reyna Kahan) fares better, but the issue with her character is that she’s just there to fawn over Max for some reason.
Adding to the rough dialogue is the equally rough script. Characters make choices that are confusing. For example, Max knocks on Sara’s door with a bottle of wine to get to know her but the next thing we see is him walking across the street to a payphone to call her and ask her on a date. Or one of Uptown Lucius’ henchmen is looking for Max, talks to the doorman of the apartment for what seems like the first time, then we learn he’s talked to the doorman many times before. It’s just all over the place. It feels like there’s half a movie somewhere that we’re missing.
Though the content leaves a lot to be desired, from a technical standpoint The Long Way Back does better. The lo-fi aesthetic goes a long way to highlight gritty feel of the film. The sound also is consistent and clear. You’ll be able to hear everything going on, even if you prefer not to. The minimalist soundtrack was also a good choice for the type of movie it was aiming to be.
The Long Way Back is a character drama through and through, but it makes a big mistake of making you not care about the characters. The bones are there for something interesting with the idea of someone trying to get away from a certain life while fighting addiction. The problem is with the awful dialogue and odd editing choices. If you want to watch a crime drama, just watch The Departed for the fourth time and give this a pass.
3 out of 10