As hard as it tries to Die in a Gunfight is anything but a modern-day Romeo and Juliet.
Director Collin Schiffli attempts to animate Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari’s script with originality, pizazz, and sincerity. Yet, he successfully creates a film we have seen before.
Die in a Gunfight is the “love” story of Ben Gibbon (Diego Boneta) and Mary Rathcart (Alexandra Daddario), the outcast children of long-warring media rival families. We are eagerly enticed into their narrative via stylised cartoons and Billy Crudup’s disdainful voiceover explaining Ben and Mary’s past. That of former teenage star-crossed lovers separated by their ruthless parents at the height of their connection. Once brought up to speed, we, in real-time, witness the rekindling of their love affair intermixed with complicated thuggery by supporting characters.
Terrance (Justin Chatwin) is initially hired by Mary’s father, William (John Ralston), to spy on her in boarding school. He returns to the now attempting to marry Mary while assisting William with a Rathcart Corporation whistleblower scandal. Terrance hires Thug Wayne (Travis Fimmel) to kill the whistleblower plus two goons—Echo (John Tench) and Bravo (Neven Pajkic)—as a contingency plan.
Barrer and Ferrari endeavour to emulate what Guy Ritchie did with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998). They fail. The script is unnecessarily convoluted, adding layer upon layer like a lasagne but not as tasty. There is a distinct lack of depth and substance instead.
Boneta and Daddario are your stereotypical leads, young and good looking. Aesthetically, they complement each other well. Unfortunately, they are unconvincing as star-crossed lovers Ben and Mary lacking the crucial chemistry required to depict believable love. On the other hand, Chatwin and Fimmel offer superb performances rendering their subplots more entertaining than the main narrative.
The initial edgy, gritty, modern vibe of Die in a Gunfight, encapsulated from the fast-paced nature of the storyline, unfortunately, dwindles as it progresses. It tries a little too hard to be something it is not instead of settling into its groove and exploring what it is. Had there been more focus on fewer elements instead of less focus across many components, Die in a Gunfight could have been an impressive film instead of a mediocre one.
Movie Review By Anita Kertes