The Film: Meskada (2010)
The Principles: Josh Sternfield (Director), Nick Stahl, Rachel Nichols, Kellan Lutz, Jonathan Tucker, Norman Reedus
The Premise: A robbery gone wrong leaves a young kid dead, a town destined to drown in poverty and Nick Stahl out of place as an independent detective.
Is It Good: I personally attempt to use Movie of the Day as a springboard for films I personally love for one reason or another, but sometimes I don’t get to one of those in a week’s time. Meskada is being written about because this was one of those weeks. It’s not bad, but it shows why this film went direct to streaming and video.
The prologue immediately establishes that the director and the cinematographer brought a high production value, which is maintained all the way until Stahl talks to the politically connected mother of the deceased child. This is the point where a great production value turns to an exercise of trying to find the interesting main plot of the film without getting too distracted in the increasingly poor acting and leaps in logic and character development.
The main story spends most of the 90 minute runtime playing out multiple chicken before the egg scenarios where rash decisions affect all the players. Most of these decisions have repercussions. Robbing a house without properly staking it out causes the death of a child. Some of the poor decisions from the councilwoman as she attempts to get faster results than Stahl can provide. The strange decisions made by most of the characters at the end of the story. Even through the heavy handed moral, the story is a politically charged tale that makes up for the acting. That is, until the end where the writers attempt to make everyone happy and in turn make a lot of strange decisions that don’t match the character definition up to that point.
Stahl is never truly convincing as a hardened detective, working in the thriving town of Hilliard while coming from the trailer trash infected Caswell. He needed a stache or a beard so he could be perceived as someone mature enough to stand up to those around him the way he did. He appears to be about 25 but commands authority from those around him as if he has been doing this for a time equal to his age. I am all for believing that youth can be every bit (a lot of time much more) thorough in enthusiasm, perseverance and stubbornness but it is rare that a youthful person speaks down to those in positions of power and authority. At the end, I felt the role was very much against the grain on it’s choice of Stahl as the lead, and unfortunately that stuck out anytime he attempted to be a figure of authority.
If Stahl appeared too naive to act like he did, Rachel Nichols was even more out of place. Never once does her character appear to be old enough to drive, let alone be an above entry level county detective. At one point in the film, she gets physically beaten and then ends up on the winning end. I don’t know if the casting agent realize, but she was barely 100 pounds against two large 20 something males.
With exception of the main male welfare recipients, the rest of the cast ranges from terrible overacting to incredibly dull performances. The normally dry James McCaffrey (Jimmy Keefe on Rescue Me) overacts a little, but is completely dull compared to the stage-worthy, overemphasized performance by the councilwoman/lawyer combination. Don’t worry, the director used the overacting to bring life because almost all the other supporting actors have none. They could easily double as walkers on The Walking Dead, and they wouldn’t even need makeup.
The main guys from Caswell put in the best and most believable performances in the movie. Jonathan Tucker is convincing as the brains of the heist operations and the caring uncle. Norman Reedus plays to his strengths as a tough and dirty
Daryl unemployed father who enjoys marital privileges with someone other than his spouse. Even Twillght alum Kellan Lutz puts in a convincing role as the guy who accidentally murdered the child.
Is It Worth A Look: The performances could have easily turned this into something completely unwatchable, but they don’t. The plot is interesting and the acting is just good enough to save it from hitting rock bottom, even if some of the actors appear to be strange choices. If I had been able to watch more I don’t think I would have written about it as I don’t recommend tracking it down, but if it’s on or you are extremely bored, it won’t make you wish you had those minutes of your life back.
At one point the film says a letter came from Manitoba, Canada but uses a US zip code.
Cinematic Soulmates: Winter’s Bone, 8 Mile, Lifetime Channel Movies