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Escape is the challenge in gritty crime drama 'Badsville'

Escape is the challenge in gritty crime drama 'Badsville'
Ian McLaren in the movie "Badsville." (Epic Pictures)

Forget the cheapo title, “Badsville” is a powerful, deeply felt crime drama about letting go of the past and getting out of Dodge — before it’s too late. This self-described “greaser gangster” film, whose unidentified time setting often evokes the 1950s, brings genuine tension and despair to its time-honored story, which is propulsively realized by director April Mullen.

Stars Ian McLaren and Benjamin Barrett wrote the movie’s impressive, tough-hearted script involving two fierce gangs, the Kings and the Aces, headed for a showdown in their dead-end hometown. (The film was shot in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.)

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Over the course of a week, Kings leader Wink (McLaren), he of the slicked-back hair and holey wife-beater T-shirt, loses his mother to cancer, falls for local gal Suzy (Tamara Duarte), runs afoul of messed-up friend — and co-gang member — Benny (Barrett), and must defend the Kings’ honor against the ruthless Aces, all while planning his exit from Badsville. But will he survive?

Although it’s a brutal film with its share of bad cats (Robert Knepper as a sadistic gang veteran is truly scary), the script makes time for some authentic, often complex emotions and fleeting glimmers of hope. Still, the movie’s theme of violence begetting violence is almost as inescapable here as the eponymous town itself.

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‘Badsville’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Playing: Cinépolis Pico Rivera

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