The indie crime thriller "Misfortune" recycles such familiar genre tropes as ill-gotten gains, double-crosses, ruthless gunplay and last-chance locales, but serves them up in a taut, twisty and involving way.
Desmond Devenish, who stars, directed and co-wrote (with Xander Bailey), turns a potentially ho-hum vanity project into something thankfully more commendable and authentic. His compelling leading-man presence (think Jon Hamm's blond brother) provides a solid anchor to the mayhem.
Boyd (Devenish) is an unemployed mechanic who finds himself on the run when his father's (Nick Mancuso) killer and partner in crime (Kevin Gage) wins early parole and comes looking for a stolen treasure he believes Boyd's dad left behind.
But Boyd's in the dark about the booty so he takes off across the Arizona desert with his devoted waitress girlfriend (Jenna Kanell) and petty-thief pal (Bailey) to search for the spoils in the exact spot his father died. A perilous and propulsive game of cat-and-mouse ensues.
Although the film is a bit light on character detail and a few key moments, such as the unearthing of the missing swag, feel abruptly rendered, Devenish has crafted an impressive feature debut with an expert assist from cinematographer Seth Johnson and a sound team that includes Oscar nominee Tony Lamberti ("Inglourious Basterds").
Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills