Film - The Night Crew


It's a fight to the death as our own tough guy bounty hunter, Chris Smith, watches The Night Crew...

Mae (Chasty Ballesteros) is on the run in Mexico from cartel boss Eduardo Aguilar (Danny Trejo). He wants her dead, and just as his men track her down, four hard-up bounty hunters swoop in with guns blazing and steal her away. Wade (Luke Goss), Crenshaw (Bokeem Woodbine), their smart-mouth sidekick Ronnie (Paul Sloan), and Rose (Luciana Faulhaber), are as tough as they come. The bounty hunters take Mae and hole up at a remote hotel south of the border, and the entire place comes under siege by Aguilar's men. He orders them to turn the motel into a slaughterhouse until they bring him Mae's head on a plate. It's a fight to the death.

It's difficult to call Christian Sesma's The Night Crew “original” or “innovative” because it is neither. If you like your action movies full to the brim with cheesy dialogue, exploitive shots of very beautiful women, minimalistic character development, or gunfights taking place in the dark punctuated by screams of “no!” then pull up a chair, you've found your new favourite movie.

The Night Crew does draw on a strong pedigree. The siege Wade and his men find themselves in is reminiscent of Assault on Precinct 13 and to a lesser extent, Near Dark, if only in spirit. The film is beautifully shot and the action sequences remain fun. Luke Goss is – as always – fantastic and often drags the film along, kicking and shooting. Jason Mewes' scenes as security guard, Chachi inject a dash of comic relief but it's too little and too weak – a shame considering Mewes' comedy credentials. The film's final twist will be divisive but does introduce something different (still not original) to the mix and The Night Crew should be commended for that alone – even if its pretty obvious early on.

This is where the compliments end.

It's difficult not to feel sorry for Danny Trejo, a man who has dragged himself out of some very dark places in his life to carve out a decent movie and television career. Roles in Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy and Machete have elevated him far beyond “that guy” status. It's deeply upsetting, then, to see such a good actor with such screen presence relegated to effectively little more than a cameo. It's almost as if The Night Crew hired him simply for the attention his name brings. Trejo is his usual wonderful self in this but criminally under-used and that's to the film's detriment.

Sadly, it's Chasty Ballesteros and Luciana Faulhaber who get the worst part of the deal. As two beautiful women in a male-dominated, testosterone-drenched action flick, they must have known they would be the target of every reference to rape or misogynistic villain The Night Crew has to offer. While, there are worse offenders in this genre, it's the complete lack of self-awareness about this tired, boring, and unnecessary cliché that harms the film and the opening scene is perfect for its 15 certificate (again, not a compliment). When responding to accusations of sexism, directors often point to the “strong” and “tough” qualities of their female characters and yes, both Mae and Rose could indeed be described that way. However, it doesn't change the fact that male characters are not told they should be thankful because they weren't raped, and they aren't the ones being tied-up and tortured/molested to show just how terrible a henchmen is. If the action genre wishes to be taken seriously, it's a cliché that needs to die - probably while screaming “no!” as bad electro-rock plays in the background.

If you loved action movies in the 1980s and wonder why they don't make those films any more, The Night Crew is a perfect film. For everyone else, The Night Crew is a perfect example of why they don't make those films any more.

Image - Sicily Publicity