Eye for Eye (not to be confused with An Eye for an Eye) opens with a long scene of Sheriff Quint Reagan (Shane Clouse) riding across the prairie as a song by Mr. Clause plays on the soundtrack. It’s one of those modern country songs that has more in common with Bryan Adams than Johnny Cash, not what I’d expect from a film that bills itself as “A classic Western movie”.
In any case, he should have been riding faster because a bunch of no good varmints are at his ranch assaulting and murdering his pregnant wife Consuela (Ashley Rae McGee, Nexus of Evil, The Investigators: When Truth Calls). He finds her body, buries her, and leaves his badge on her grave as he rides off to get revenge. He says something either to God or his wife’s spirit but much of it is drowned out by yet another song.
All of this takes less than five minutes, including a title card with a biblical verse about revenge and Eye for Eye’s opening credits. But if you think that means we’re getting into the gunslinging and revenging any sooner, think again.
Meanwhile, Brad Braddock (John Savage, The Deer Hunter, Betrayed) is not a happy man and he’s letting his lackey Spike (Cody Root, Wild Roads) know it. Him and his boys were only supposed to scare her off so Quint would follow her and they could take his property. Now she’s dead and they left enough traces that it won’t be hard for Quint to trace it back to him.
Writer/director L.J. Martin seems to be something of a renaissance man, having written novels in a number of genres, non-fiction books about beating cancer twice as well as some political “nonfiction”. Then he decided to add filmmaking to that list, so he filmed one of his own novels. He really should have stuck to writing, because Eye for Eye is a trainwreck.
It’s shot cheaply on digital with no attempt to make it look like film or even decent quality video. Combined with the title cards that serve as transitions between scenes it gives the whole production an amateurish look. This isn’t helped by Martin’s decision to use local Montana actors, several with no previous film experience, for most of the cast. They seem to be trying, but most of them are, to put it bluntly, awful. Even Hollywood veteran John Savage who certainly does know how to give a good performance overacts so badly it’s hard not to laugh.
It doesn’t help that almost every character, not just the hero and villain in Eye for Eye is a massive cliche. From Bradock’s servants, the inscrutable Chinese Hong (Sean Eden Yi, Fearless, Chinese Speaking Vampires) and Native American Tall Horse (Derek Sorrell) to the pretty Latina widow Lola (Blanca Blanco, Dark Reel, Bermuda Tentacles) that Braddock lusts after, and her young son Tommy (Slant Streets).
What we’re left with is a dull, by the numbers, revenge Western that never has the nerve to embrace its exploitative plot elements and ends up filling an hour and forty-two minutes with loads of talk and very little action. It never even manages to convince the audience it’s happening at any time but in the present day. Everything is shiny and new off a store shelf or out of a prop house.
Compared to Eye for Eye, films like Catch the Bullet and The Desperate Riders don’t look quite as bad. This is on a level with Righteous Blood when it comes to woeful Westerns. I’m only giving this misfire one star because Google throws a tantrum if I give anything less.