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Let's just say that this isn't exactly the Iranian "Goodfellas". It is not necessarily the approach that this movie was going for, but it is still obviously going for a big, yet very personal, crime epos approach.

This is a movie that very obviously is made for the festival circuit. That is not a criticism, but I am saying it to let you know what you are in for. It is definitely a case of 'style over substance'and visually it is absolutely a stunning and very appealing looking movie, though it is just a bit too dark at times. Seriously, it is quite hard to tell what is going on at times, due to its darkness. Hard to say whether this as done deliberate, but I am leaning toward 'no'. Though the movie seems very aware of its style, some things just don't appear to be thought through well enough. Being visually impressive and appealing is one thing, but being able to tell what is going on on the screen remains a totally different one. On the one hand it is a well shot movie, but on the other it remains a somewhat clumsily and definitely lacking one as well.

But that is only part of this movie its problem. A far bigger problem is that the story just never manages to grab you. Neither the story or characters are engaging enough. It is mostly because the movie isn't giving you enough context or background. There is a good reason why most crime movies feature narration in it. Something that absolutely would have been a welcome addition to this movie as well, in order to make the story and main character more solid and definitely more engaging as well. Now there just isn't enough in this movie story- wise to keep you interested in it all throughout. As a result of this all of the drama and other story-development fall short. It makes the movie a pretty shallow viewing experience, that even starts to drag after a while, due to its pace. It is a slower type of movie that lets things progress, in a often too, dull pace. It feels too deliberate all and it also definitely feels like the movie could have sped things up a little at times, in order for it to still work out as a slightly more interesting and engaging one.

It is also somewhat annoying how this movie gets advertised as an action flick, while there in fact is barely any action in it at all. And by barely I mean 'basicaly none'. No, not really a complaint either, though it definitely would have spiced things up a little bit more, which would have been a very welcome something.

The acting is a bit lacking as well. Not that it is the case, but most of them come across as non-professionals. This actually could have worked in the movie its advantage, if only it went for a more realistic approach instead of a very stylized one. The acting is part of the reason why none of the characters ever work out as likable enough. I for one definitely couldn't have cared less about the faith of the main character of the movie. Never a good sign of course.

Not a bad attempt and definitely a good looking movie, but it also is far from the most interesting or effective genre attempt. Far too flawed, especially story- and character-wise, to work out as a decent- and recommendable movie.

5/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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