Though there's nothing terribly profound or unique about actor Jason Momoa's feature writing-directing debut, "Road to Paloma," it does prove an effective throwback to the loose-limbed, my-way-or-the-highway road movies of the "Easy Rider" era.
This simmering little film finds Momoa (from the 2011 "Conan the Barbarian" reboot and "Game of Thrones") putting his beefy charisma to solid use as Robert Wolf, a Native American on the run after killing the man who raped and murdered his mother.
Wolf crosses America's stark Southwest by motorcycle, winding his way through a series of encounters — some random, others purposeful — as the authorities hunt him down. En route, he reconnects with family, including his wary father (Wes Studi) and loving sister (Sarah Shahi) and brother-in-law (Michael Raymond-James); has a quickie with a free spirit (Lisa Bonet) he meets roadside; and gets in and out of several bloody scrapes with his reckless new buddy, Cash (Robert Homer Mollohan).
Wolf's endgame may be to scatter his dear mother's ashes in a final resting place, but peace for everyone on this fraught journey may ultimately be hard to find.
Despite the script's bluntly stacked deck and plain-spoken dialogue (Momoa wrote with Mollohan and Jonathan Hirschbein), there are unexpected notes of power and grace throughout.
Momoa creates an involving if relaxed pace, one whose moody rhythms are infused with a kind of soulful spirituality. He's helped immeasurably by Brian Andrew Mendoza's stirring cinematography, which captures the film's dark corners and wide open spaces with equal skill. Cool soundtrack too.
"Road to Paloma."
MPAA rating: R for language, sexuality, nudity, drug use and violence, including sexual assault.
Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes.
At Los Feliz 3, Los Angeles.