Charlie Zone has its problems from a low budget which lends to cheaper production values and a so-so supporting cast and a predictable script, but the two leads are both excellent and the story itself is presentable and worth sticking with for the 100-minute duration. Despite the film’s problems, it’s still worthy of a rental.
Genre(s): Drama, Suspense
Anchor Bay | R – 103 min. – $24.99 | June 4, 2013
Directed by: Michael Melski
Writer(s): Joe LeClair and Michael Melski (written by)
Cast: Amanda Crew, Glen Gould, Pasha Ebrahimi
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Disc Size: 22.2 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
Charlie Zone, a term for a mean street where part of the movie takes place, centers on a washed-out, has-been, ex-con boxer named Avery Paul (GLEN GOULD) who makes basically spare change by taking brutal fights made for the Internet. He’s set up at a grimy half-way house when he’s contacted by a woman (JENNIE RAYMOND) who wants to hire Avery to kidnap a girl named Jan (AMANDA CREW) from her abusive, drug-addicted lifestyle and violent drug-dealing boyfriend, Tal (PASHA EBRAHIMI) who, along with Tal’s right-hand man (MPHO KOAHO), keeps a tight leash on her. After some initial refusal, Avery couldn’t pass up the money, $20k, half of which is up front.
Avery knows where Jen is so he puts on his P.I. cap and stakes the territory out. He first goes inside the drug house inhabited by Tal and friends paying a cover charge to get in and then some more money for morphine to which he fakes injects (in an earlier scene he uses his Mission: Impossible skills to create false skin and condiment packs for the fake blood). For a rough and down on his luck fellow, Avery is quite resourceful. Inside, he scopes the place out and finds Jan still being tightly controlled.
Later, Avery further utilizes his skills setting up temp quarters at a storage locker facility, buying a cheap car and gathering various items at his job at the junk yard, etc before surveilling Jan and her movements. When the time is right, he nabs her via the age old movie chloroform method, and manages to elude Tal before taking off, although Tal is furious proclaiming his love for Jan and despite pleas from his right-hand man, is determined to get her back.
Meanwhile, at the makeshift holding cell, Jan awakens with attitude and the two sparse with verbs but as Avery will discover not all simple. Avery gleans that Jan had been in trouble in the past, stealing money from very bad people out East and it’s confirmed after staying at a roach motel, where the drop off on Jan for money is to happen, gets interrupted by a nasty biker gang, one of whom knocks Avery out and works him over before going to another room to question Jan using Russian Roulette. Avery manages to defy all odds and save the girl, but the worst may not be over yet…
Charlie Zone is a cheaply made movie, no doubt. The production values are low, locations are ordinary and the supporting players aren’t anything great, save perhaps for Pasha Ebrahimi, but what does work and why I liked it was for the performances from Gould and Crew. Both actors don’t really have an expansive resume but together they share some great (platonic) chemistry to go along with raw emotion that really pushes the story forward. Glen Gould is a real treasure showing toughness at first but the façade begins to break while Amanda Crew goes on a similar path and is wonderful so hopefully she gets more work.
The screenplay was co-written by director Michael Melski marks only his second feature film following 2008’s Growing Op starring Rosanna Arquette. With CZ, the script does have some pointed dialogue but the story is in a way daring with the subject matter. However, it’s not entirely unpredictable as anyone can see the big twist coming from two miles away. Even so, between well written main characters and at least a somewhat investing plot, Charlie Zone is at the very least worth a rental… if you can find it.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0/5
Unfortunately, there are only previews for other Anchor Bay titles.
VIDEO – 3.5/5
Charlie Zone arrives on Blu-ray presented with a 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-def transfer. Shot likely digitally, this budgeted indie film doesn’t look the best in HD but some elements were at least decent such as detail levels on close-ups and the color array was intentionally limited with bluish hues in some scenes and orange in others. There are some signs of banding and even slight artifacting but it’s not overpowering or takes away from the enjoyment of the picture (such as it is).
AUDIO – 3.0/5
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track included is regrettably docile at best. The audio seems awfully low-key even for dialogue levels which was often soft and forget about any action (such as gunfire) which came across more muffled rather than aggressive. I highly doubt this had to do with the transfer and more for the productions low budget.
OVERALL – 2.75/5
Overall, Charlie Zone has its problems from a low budget which lends to cheaper production values and a so-so supporting cast and a predictable script, but the two leads are both excellent and the story itself is presentable and worth sticking with for the 100-minute duration. Despite the film’s problems, it’s still worthy of a rental. The Blu-ray unfortunately is nothing special with no features and average video and audio transfers.