Traded was directed by Timothy Woodward Jr. (Gangster Land, 4Got10), written by Mark Esslinger (Delivery, The Brady Brides), and stars Michael Paré (The Wild Man: Skunk Ape, The Resonator: Miskatonic U), Trace Adkins (Apache Junction, The Desperate Riders), Tom Sizemore (Megalodon Rising, The Electric Man), Brittany Williams, (Welcome to the Men’s Group, Hickock), Constance Brenneman (Beast Mode, Evil Takes Root), Natalia Cigliuti (Kill Speed, Drunk Parents), Martin Kove (3 Tickets to Paradise, Cobra Kai) and Kris Kristofferson (Eye See You, Blade). It is about a father having to leave his home behind in order to save his daughter from a man he used to know.
The Plot: Plotting is familiar, with Traded being a revenge/rescue tale that has been seen plenty of times. The Travis family is wracked with grief due to the death of the youngest member, Jake. After this event, daughter Lily (Williams) runs away to become a Harvey Girl, and wife Amelia (Brenneman) spirals into a depressive state. The patriarch, Clay (Paré) sets out on a quest to find Lily. Clay finds out from bartender Billy (Kristofferson) that a man named Ty (Adkins) sold her to Lavoie (Sizemore). After confronting Ty, Clay goes to the town where Lavoie resides and runs into Nell (Cigliuti), who tells him how to find Lavoie. Clay continues his quest for his daughter.
The Characters: Characters are equally familiar, with little surprises. Clay is the typical western father, being protective of his wife and children, and trying to hang up his past in order to live peacefully for the rest of his days. Naturally, this is not the outcome that befalls him. Lily and Amelia follow suit, being Clay’s loving family that nearly crumbles under hardship. Ty is the smooth-voiced businessman who cares only for profit, morals be damned.
The only real difference from the norm is with Lavoie, whose traits are still familiar, but his sleaziness is heightened compared to other villains in westerns; which helps make him memorable. Performances help keep the movie treading water, with Paré being a very good reluctant hero trying to keep his anger pent up inside. Williams and Brenneman are believable as Clay’s family, and Adkins is solid as the secondary bad guy. Sizemore is up there with Paré in performance, exuding grime and ruthlessness.
The Action: Western themes are mostly well presented in Traded. Vindication of violence is definitely present, with Clay’s actions never being framed as heroic, only necessary. The struggles of the frontier are clear in the movie, with the ruthlessness of the day being decently captured via locations, characters, and music. It is a homely kind of feeling, having a small-scale western, realizing a small portion of a country that was in a dark place. The action does exist in the movie, with a lot of it being unremarkable, never making much of an impression due to generic shooting techniques, stock sound effects, and little in the way of blood or a visceral feeling.
The Technics: Technically the movie is fine. Set design and decoration are well done, with each little town feeling real enough, but never coaxes the viewer into buying into the setting. This is largely due to the lower budget, but the costuming and music help to make up for it. Each character is believably dirty, ragged, and dressed; and the music is familiar in its slow rhythms and calm flow.
However, the music resembles the pacing in that it is very, very slow. A movie about a father tracking down his daughter and saving her from being a sex slave should have some urgency to it, Traded does not, it strolls through the plot at a leisurely pace, rarely picking up steam when it should be trailblazing.
Traded is a serviceable western that breaks no moulds and holds little surprises. The plot has been done numerous times, with many better iterations. Still, the performances are solid which keeps Traded entertaining as it meanders its way to the end. Plenty of other options exist that Traded could be exchanged for.
Traded is available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital platforms., Its Facebook page is still up though repurposed for another of the company’s Westerns. And, if you’re looking for more of the same or something a little different FilmTagger has some suggestions.