Combustible Celluloid
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With: Emile Hirsch, John Cusack, Jake Manley, Elizabeth Faith Ludlow, Graham Patrick Martin, Heather Marie Marsden, Chris Jai Alex, Aubrey Stevens, Barry Hanley, Nick Benseman, Shelby Yardley, James Logan William Katt, Brittany Belt, Andrew Stevens
Written by: Dawn Bursteen, Ben Fiore, Brian Skiba
Directed by: Brian Skiba
MPAA Rating: R for violence, disturbing images, language and some drug content
Running Time: 97
Date: 02/18/2022

Pursuit (2022)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Wild Noose Chase

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This messy, convoluted action movie is so utterly incomprehensible that it's difficult to say what it's actually about, other than a whole bunch of characters shooting each other and blowing stuff up.

Computer hacker Rick Calloway (Emile Hirsch) is trying to track down his wife, who has been kidnapped in connection with his drug lord father (John Cusack). Rick interrupts a drug bust engineered by NYPD detective Mike Breslin (Jake Manley) and is eventually arrested. Transferred to Little Rock, he's kidnapped by a rival father-son drug cartel. Breslin arrives and teams up with local cop Zoe Carter (Elizabeth Faith Ludlow) to find him. Before long, all interested parties clash in a showdown of bullets and grenades.

Not even the title gives much of a clue. In Pursuit, we have one character who is mourning a dead wife, and another who is searching for a missing wife, presumed dead. We have two father-and-son drug lord families, one of which is simply known as "Frank and John." We have a man walking away in slo-mo from an explosion. We have a character (Cusack) who spends most of the movie constantly flipping steaks on his gas grill — so frequently that they will surely never cook.

The only thing that's somewhat clear is that everyone is after Hirsch's Rick Calloway character, although the reasons why are unclear. Hirsch takes being the center of attention and runs with it, donning a weird wardrobe (at one point wearing only underwear and long socks), dark glasses and face tattoos, and delivering his lines in a cool, unhurried manner. When a car comes to his rescue during a chase, he climbs in and says, "you can drive... if you like."

It's too bad the rest of Pursuit forgets to be fun along with him. Manley plays every scene with the same blank expression, leaving poor Ludlow stranded, and Cusack looks simply perturbed over having to be here. We can't blame him.

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