Detour Film Review

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by: Jerry Smith




At one point or another, we've all reached a set of crossroads which gave us the opportunity to choose which direction we'd go down. Left or right, right or wrong, a series of decisions which affect either your hour, day or life in general. While most of these crossroads and decisions aren't as eventful as one would like, there are typically a few in life which change things forever. That theme of one decision and a series of consequences is front and center in SEVERANCE/TRIANGLE director Christopher Smith's crime Noir thriller, DETOUR, a film rich with excellent performances, an intriguing plot and enough twists to leave you unsure of what'll happen next. 


Harper (JOE/SCOUT'S GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE star Tye Sheridan) is a law student with a very real dilemma: his mother is in a coma, having gotten into a wreck which left her on the brink of death. At the center of the accident is Vincent (True Blood star Stephen Moyer), Harper's step father who not only could be having an affair, forged his comatose wife's signature on a life insurance police/will and has rarely paid his wife a hospital visit. 


We're introduced to this world of anger and pain in Harper, so when he comes across the tough as nails and very dangerous Johnny Ray (Emory Cohen, THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES) at a bar, what the young law student foolishly proposes to to thug isn't all that shocking. Offering the criminal a decent amount of money in exchange for "taking care" of his step father, we know that Harper is making a huge mistake and the film's left or right series of decisions begins to come into effect. We're then introduced to Cherry (Bel Powley), an emotionally damaged woman who is under the influence of Johnny Ray and who soon shows up at Harper's door the next day with the thug, ready to go on a road trip to Nevada to get the job done. Harper is left with the decision of going with the forceful brute and his mysterious girl or going a different route, one which will be painful but seemingly without murder. As the upset young man goes with the duo, we're then placed right in the middle of a series of mistakes, all while slowly getting the events of the day prior to the road trip shown to us as well, serving as two storylines which eventually meet up in one hell of a conclusion.


What director Smith is so good at with DETOUR, is showing how a good person can accidentally be in the middle of a very bad thing. We sympathize with Harper and as we see Johnny Ray emotionally and at times physically abuse Cherry, we sympathize with her as well. We're given realistic characters, realistic situations and then a front row seat to an explosive and very competent story, one that never makes the mistake of putting too much on your plate. It's great to continually think you know what's going on wth DETOUR, because in reality, you don't and won't, as every layer is very precisely laid out in front of us little by little. Sheridan and Powley are on top of their game as two people who shouldn't be in this situation but are and Cohen is a force of nature, his Johnny Tay character is one of the most memorable tough guy baddies in a long time. 


A wild ride, packed with twists and an enthralling premise, DETOUR is one hell of a film, one that sneaks its punches upon you. When the hits do come, you're left knocked out, on the floor waiting for the next. Good stuff to say the least. 




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