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With: Diego Boneta, Alexandra Daddario, Justin Chatwin, Travis Fimmel, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Wade Allain-Marcus
Written by: Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari
Directed by: Collin Schiffli
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and drug use
Running Time: 92
Date: 07/16/2021

Die in a Gunfight (2021)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Fortune's Fools

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

For all its colorful characters and attempts at comic-book coolness, this violence-infused, star-crossed romance — which borrows heavily from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet —ultimately feels even less than lightweight; it feels as if it's about nothing at all.

Two powerful media families, the Gibbons and the Rathcarts, have been feuding for generations. Ben Gibbon (Diego Boneta) and Mary Rathcart (Alexandra Daddario) are deeply in love, but have been kept apart for years by forces beyond their control. They come back into each other's lives at just the wrong moment, as a whirlwind of violence swirls around them, as they prepare to marry and leave the country.

A Rathcart flunkie, Terrence (Justin Chatwin), is obsessed with Mary, and will stop at nothing, even murder, to win her. But a hitman, Wayne (Travis Fimmel), who is in the middle of his own tragic love story, also comes into the picture. Can the loving couple survive long enough to earn their happy ending?

Notable for having been chosen in 2010 for the "Black List" — a list of the best unproduced screenplays — Die in a Gunfight seems as if it perhaps read better in print form than it plays on the screen. One of the best characters, Mukul (Wade Allain-Marcus) — sounds like "McCool" — is the Mercutio character, loyal to Ben's Romeo. He has some wonderful line readings, almost musical, and yet none of them really come to anything. He's not really even relevant to the story.

Another great character is Wayne (Travis Fimmel), whose partner in crime is Barbie (Emmanuelle Chriqui). He has some wonderfully intense moments, far more powerful than anything in the main story, and yet he feels marginalized. At least Daddario brings a wide-eyed excitement to her character, as Mary begins to hope for the future, and to believe that happiness is possible.

Otherwise, Die in a Gunfight attempts to do the same thing that Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet did far better back in 1996, and seems irrelevant. Even as likable as it sometimes is, it comes across as a vague outline of Shakespeare's play, with place markers instead of plot turns.

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