A Southern gangster tale unfolds on the backstreets of New Orleans in the twisty, scrappy thriller "Dark Meridian," which plunges the viewer into a story of mob vengeance gone sideways.
Writer-director Rankin Hickman makes his feature debut on the film, a tale of two crime families warring over a dead son. Det. Solena (James Moses Black), who's on the take with the Marek family, finds himself in over his head one night when he encounters his boss' son Tevi (Dave Davis). Pairing up to chase down a possible lead, and finding themselves in danger, the two spend the night unraveling the web of deceit surrounding the death of Tevi's brother.
"Dark Meridian" has an agile, energetic vibe, a chase movie from the jump, tearing down the corners of the Big Easy, and only stopping for torture, interrogation and monologues. The editing really moves, and the actors are at full throttle in every moment. But being dropped into a story that's already in motion, with unnecessarily convoluted flashbacks and very little character development, you constantly feel like you're playing catch-up with "Dark Meridian." After awhile, the effort just doesn't seem worth the ultimate payoff.
This debut effort from Hickman lacks the dramatic tension and connective tissue to truly compel, but his gritty, high-energy aesthetic can no doubt be applied to better results with a stronger script.
Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills