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Film Review: Though a Cookie-Cutter Genre Film, “Paydirt” Still Delivers Some Fresh Action, Comedy, and Thrills

Written by: Adam Vaughn | August 6th, 2020

Film poster: “Paydirt”

Paydirt (Christian Sesma, 2020) 3 out of 4 stars.

Certain films can fall victim to mimicking the same story and genre conventions of previous ones, riffing off their inspirations and mirroring what has come before. Paydirt, however, injects the “cartel-crime” genre with a bold new sense of humor, cleverness and thrills. Director Christian Sesma (Vigilante Diaries) tells the story of a group of master thieves, led by Damien “The Brit” Brooks (Luke Goss, Hellboy II: The Golden Army), as they plan their final and most ambitious heist against a Mexican drug cartel (and their leader’s daughter).

What made this movie a “certified fresh” experience for me was its use of comedic timing, clearly inspired by the impromptu dialogue-flow found in film franchises such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Fast and the Furious and newer films such as Jumanji: The Next Level, using the fast pace of the action and complementing it with witty humor. While the film’s content certainly does not derive from the same target audience as Marvel or Jumanji, the same type of script-writing and editing conventions keep the film energized, cohesive and downright entertaining, throughout.

Luke Goss as Damien Brooks in the action/crime thriller, PAYDIRT, an Uncork’d Entertainment release. Photo courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment.

Most of this can be credited to the performances of many of the main actors in the film. Mike Hatton and Paul Sloan (both from Green Book) do a tremendous job in scenes together, offsetting each other as (literally) The Brains and The Brawn, resulting in hilarious moments. All the while Veronika Bozeman (Armed) and Murielle Telio (The Nice Guys) form a sexy and fiery duet, with a pro-LGBTQ message in their characters’ relationship.

Unfortunately, the film eventually comes to a screeching halt, leaving the biggest Hollywood name, Val Kilmer (The Snowman) out to dry with a less-than-satisfying ending and character arc. The resolution of the film is wrapped up too quickly, a mere putting of all the pieces together. It is as if Sesma lost what exciting momentum he had going for the film, or was robbed of production budget or time, resulting in a lackluster conclusion that cheats the audience, which was having so much fun watching these beautifully developed characters on their journey.

Val Kilmer as Sheriff Tucker in the action/crime thriller, PAYDIRT, an Uncork’d Entertainment release. Photo courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment.

Adam Vaughn is a graduate of the Film & Moving Image program at Stevenson University, with a focus in Cinematography and Production. He also has a minor in Theater and Media Performance. Adam works as a freelance photographer and videographer, focusing his craft on creating compelling photographic and cinematic imagery. Adam is excited to join the Film Festival Today team and explore the world of cinema and visual arts.

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