|December 17, 2007|
|David Gordon Green|
|David Gordon Green|
|Drama, Indie, Thriller
Rated R for violence
Before Pineapple Express was a huge success, director David Gordon Green was producing small drama films like All The Real Girls and Snow Angels, featuring big names like Zooey Deschanel and Kate Beckinsale. Among those dramatic pieces that kickstarted Green’s career was a thriller entitled Undertow, featuring an early Jamie Bell (before Jumper fame) and Kristen Stewart (pre-Twilight infame). Josh Lucas and Dermot Mulroney fill out the adult cast, playing estranged brothers.
Lucas plays hothead and freeloader, Deel, returning home to Georgia and his brother, John (Mulroney), to collect his share of an heirloom of gold coins left to them by their father. By barging into the household, Deel not only stirs up trouble with John, but John’s two sons, Tim (Devon Alan), and already troubled Chris (Jamie Bell). Eventually the trouble spreads when Deel discovers the hidden gold coins behind a family portrait and a struggle ensues, ending with John’s blood on Deel’s hands. The rest of the film is a chase between Deel and the two young boys who escape with the gold coins.
Josh Lucas plays the role of a lifetime. In comparison with a recent role Lucas played in Stolen as a worried single father, the character of an overbearing loner with the capacity to kill children from Undertow far overshadows the weak and innocent character from Stolen. Lucas steals the show and presents prestige killer attributes that Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers failed to display even on their best days. Plain and simple, Josh Lucas is scary, and I loved every moment of it.
Jamie Bell displays amazing child acting skills and shows serious signs of being a huge prospect in the future, delivering an outstanding performance in Jumper and making another huge leap into big name films like Defiance and coming out soon, The Eagle. Suppressing his English accent and playing superb off of the very young Devon Alan, Bell deserves the recognition that he receives from Undertow.
The mood that Green creates in Undertow screams murder before any blood is actually shed. The setting builds an arena for such dark occurrences and shadowing any doubts on whether they could actually take place. The audience is set up to share the same fear that the boys exert from being chased by the murderous Deel, revealing Green’s slight of hand building suspense as if he had been creating these films for centuries.
Watch Pineapple Express and laugh with the rest of those who appreciate its humor, but take into consideration that David Gordon Green came from making deep and rich dramatic pieces that do not exist in current comedies. Green proves he has a gift of producing such different types of material, with none of his films resembling one another and he produces these on such a different level than most directors, becoming an independent director for the masses.