It took about ten minutes for me to realize that Pursuit was going to be an epic shitshow. That’s how long it takes to get to the first shootout. Between the overuse of slow motion, blood that looks like red paint and a pile of cash that explodes into the air for no apparent reason it’s more laughable than funny.
As it turns out Rick Calloway (Emile Hirsch, Midnight in the Switchgrass, The Autopsy of Jane Doe) has just shot up an undercover police operation. Why? Because the same dealers the police were targeting apparently were involved in the disappearance of his wife. So, being an expert hacker he disabled the police cameras and went in shooting. After a chase through Little Rock pretending to be the Big Apple in which Rick manages to shoot a few innocent bystanders he escapes.
But this puts him on the radar of Mike Breslin (Jake Manley, Infamous, Midway) an NYPD detective whose pregnant wife (Alexandria DeBerry, Tales from the Hood 2, A Haunting in Cawdor) was recently murdered but is too hardcore to take bereavement leave. He copes by standing on the balcony she was thrown from and drinking. Shirtless of course.
Of course, Rick knows who killed Mike’s wife and wants to cut a deal. Because he’s being extradited to Arkansas where his mob boss father John (John Cusack, Arsenal, The Numbers Station) is only one of several people including Frank Diego (Andrew Stevens, The Terror Within, 10 to Midnight) who want him dead. Add in several other criminals, some corrupt local cops which may include Chief Biggs (William Katt, The Greatest American Hero, House), an honest one, Zoe (Elizabeth Faith Ludlow, Peacemaker, Godzilla: King of the Monsters). Do I have to tell you that Mike’s partner gets killed and Rick escapes putting everyone in pursuit of him?
Director Brian Skiba (The 2nd, Rottentail) needed two co-writers Ben Fiore and Dawn Bursteen to put together the script for Pursuit, probably because it took three people to come up with all the cliched elements that are crammed into this film. It’s like they were working on three separate scripts and with the start of shooting coming up just crammed them all together. There are so many characters, all with their own motives, that you almost need to take notes to keep track of it all.
As chaotic as this all is, Pursuit could still have worked if the action scenes delivered the goods. But, as is usual in a film like this, there’s not enough of them, and most of them aren’t particularly well done. A couple of attempts at torture/interrogation scenes are about as convincing as Rick’s facial tattoos. Or the film’s CGI explosions. The other big problem with Pursuit is the lack of likeable characters. Mike and Zoe are undeveloped and bland heroes, anyone else who isn’t a criminal tends to die before we know much about them. Rick himself never gives us any reason to care if he finds his wife or is reunited with his son.
Of the film’s name actors, Hirsch and Cusack have the biggest roles, though that’s not really saying much. Cusack probably filmed all of his scenes in one day. Katt and Stevens have maybe ten minutes of screen time between them. Considering Stevens was also one of the film’s producers he should have given himself a better role.
Pursuit ends up being another substandard direct-to-video action film that wastes any potential the plot might have had. Even the fact Rick is such a skilled hacker he can make himself disappear is wasted as after the first act he’s never near a computer. The film does deliver a nicely twisted resolution to one of its subplots, but it’s far too little, far too late. And the film’s ultimate ending isn’t just bad, it’s actively disgusting. I guess the writers figured we’d forget about the innocent people Rick killed or what an overall scumbag he is.
Pursuit is available on VOD and Digital platforms from Lionsgate. It comes to DVD on March 29th.