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With: Tye Sheridan, Stephen Moyer, Emory Cohen, Bel Powley, John Lynch, Gbenga Akinnagbe
Written by: Christopher Smith
Directed by: Christopher Smith
MPAA Rating: R for some strong violence, sexual content, nudity, drug use, and language throughout
Running Time: 97
Date: 01/20/2017

Detour (2017)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Think Twice

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Hardly the first crime movie to play around with timelines, and not always successful, this thriller nonetheless gets away with it thanks to intriguing characters, a snappy pace, and a few surprises. Written and directed by Christopher Smith (Severance, Triangle, Black Death), Detour pulls a couple of dirty little tricks that fool the audience, not necessarily in a good way, and it's sometimes confusing; viewers will have to go back and think twice about what they've seen to make sense of it. Yet the movie is good-natured and colorful and somehow manages to avoid looking and sounding like yet another a fifth-rate Quentin Tarantino copy.

In Detour, a young law student, Harper (Tye Sheridan), is going through a tough time. His mother is in a coma and isn't expected to live long, and his stepfather doesn't seem too concerned about her, flitting off for so-called "business trips" to Las Vegas. Drunk in a bar one night, he crosses paths with hoodlum Johnny Ray (Emory Cohen) and wonders what it would take to eliminate the stepfather for good? The next day, Johnny Ray and prostitute Cherry (Bel Powley) show up, ready to do the job in exchange for $20,000. From there, the story diverges on two possible paths, one in which heads to Vegas to do the job, and one in which Harper manages to take care of his own problem. But it's only a matter of time before this detour collides with Harper's ultimate destiny.

The movie pays tribute to classic movies, especially another movie called Detour — from 1946 — which Harper (Tye Sheridan) watches on television in one scene. And the name "Harper" comes from a 1966 Paul Newman movie (the character has a movie poster in his room). Smith casts his actors cleverly; Sheridan (The Tree of Life, Mud) is a decent everyman, and Bel Powley (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) brings smarts to her character, while Emory Cohen (Brooklyn) is captivatingly volatile. All in all, it's a relatively minor thriller, but enjoyable.

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