Directed by: Dustin Fairbanks | 90 minutes | drama, thriller | Actors: Tammy Blanchard, Guillermo Díaz, David Spade, Frank Whaley, Dwight Henry, Onata Aprile, Bruce Dern, James Earl Jones, Steve Eastin, Niki Koss, Dustie Hale, Robert Johnson, Alexandra Intrator
Single Audrey struggles to make ends meet. When her grandfather dies, she inherits the family farm, including the associated water rights. However, the legacy thwarts the plans of Bobby, the grandson of an old business rival to Audrey’s grandfather. Bobby wants to take over the family business from his grandfather Calvin, but with his own water rights. Taking the law into his own hands, he hires two men to use intimidation to force Audrey and her daughter Cheyenne to relinquish the water rights. But Audrey does not just give in, so the confrontation with her hostage takers quickly gets out of hand.
“Warning Shot” is based on a true story, as we get to read at the beginning of the film. Despite this, the script is unfortunately not equally strong and coherent everywhere. The film, for example, is richly interspersed with meaningless dialogues and moderately successful attempts at humorous intermezzos. The scenes in which characters are explained that a gun is different from a gun, for example, feel very much like a screen filling and do not fulfill any functional role within the overarching plot. Continuity is also sometimes hard to find in “Warning Shot”. A good example is the part of the film where a raging and swirling river suddenly turns into little more than a rippling stream when one of the villains hits the water.
But what is especially striking about “Warning Shot” is that the film regularly swings between qualitative extremes. Cinematographically, for example, it is a good, sometimes even excellent print. Enough artistically interesting camera angles are reviewed. The action sequences, on the other hand, are often shot in a mediocre and uninspired way, especially because the inexperienced director Dustin Fairbanks too often falls back on the well-known principle of the jerky camera images.
Also in terms of acting, “Warning Shot” is a changeable affair. Tammy Blanchard, for example, does not convince as the alleged power woman Audrey and just too often uses an overly emotional tone. Acclaimed Hollywood veterans Bruce Dern and James Earl Jones, on the other hand, are their rock-solid selves, but their roles are too modest to really take the movie to the next level. The most psychologically interesting character is the villain Rainy played by Guillermo Díaz. At first glance, this crude gentleman looks like a two-dimensional peasant, but as the film progresses Rainy develops into a charismatic and intelligent psychopath with a keen insight into the human psyche. The way in which Díaz portrays the character is typical of the film as a whole: sometimes convincing and terrifying, but at times also artificial, mannered and exaggerated.
Although “Warning Shot” certainly does contain some nice moments, it is above all a fairly simplistic and changeable crime and action thriller, topped with a dramatic sauce. Not a terrible film, but because of the messy-looking script and the lack of surprise, it is anything but recommended.