Original title: Go With Me
D: Daniel Alfredson / 90m
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Julia Stiles, Alexander Ludwig, Ray Liotta, Steve Bacic, Lochlyn Munro, Hal Holbrook, Dale Wilson
Enderby, British Columbia. Lillian (Stiles) has returned to her hometown following the death of her mother. Working as a waitress in a bar she attracts the unwanted attention of Richard Blackway (Liotta), an ex-police constable turned local crime lord. One night he turns up at her house and frightens her so much that she goes to the local sheriff (Wilson). When he learns that Blackway is involved, the sheriff becomes uninterested in helping her, and tells Lillian to seek out a man named Scotty at one of the lumber companies. Instead of finding Scotty, Lillian is offered help by an old man called Lester (Hopkins), and a young man called Nate (Ludwig). Together they try and track down Blackway, beginning with a man Lester thinks will help them, Fitzgerald (Bacic).
But Fitzgerald is just as afraid of Blackway as the rest of the town. He does give them a lead on Blackway’s whereabouts, and the trio find themselves driving from place to place, either just missing him, or on one occasion, finding him but not where he’s alone. Along the way Nate has a fight with Blackway’s accountant, Murdoch (Munro), an incident at a hotel Blackway runs as a brothel leads to its being set on fire, and the trio reach a point of no return, travelling up into the mountains to an old logging camp where Blackway hides out when he needs to. But will they remain the hunters, or will Blackway turn the tables on them instead?
Post-Lisbeth Salander, Daniel Alfredson’s career hasn’t been as consistent as he perhaps would have liked. Work on the small screen took him back to his roots until Echoes of the Dead (2013) came along, but that movie couldn’t maintain its initial premise and made some questionable decisions before reaching its conclusion. In the same year as Blackway, Alfredson teamed up with Hopkins for Kidnapping Mr. Heineken, a lacklustre account of the true story that must have convinced the pair to work together again. And so we have Blackway, an austere thriller-cum-unspoken revenge drama that has more going for it than first meets the eye. The movie has a gloomy, penetrating atmosphere that perfectly suits the mood of the piece. Everyone in Enderby looks beaten down, defeated, all but Blackway, whose violent, malevolent nature leaves him as the only person in town enjoying himself.
Liotta revels in his evil nature, and he adds another psycho character to his resumé, infusing the title villain with all the rage and sadism he can muster. There’s a scene where Blackway has his hand around the neck of Fitzgerald’s daughter, squeezing it, and Liotta plays it as if he were playing with a doll. It’s disquieting, and uncomfortable to watch, and tells you everything you need to know about him. Against this we have Stiles’s heroine, unwilling to leave town, and at first, emotional and angry at being treated so horribly. But as the movie progresses, she too appears beaten down, saying less and less, until words become superfluous, until it becomes apparent where tracking down Blackway is going to take her; and her newfound allies. Hopkins is taciturn and determined, and gives one of his better performances of recent years, a proud man looking to redeem himself for something we can guess at, but which we never see confirmed. And there’s a lot that’s left unsaid in Blackway, adding to the austerity and the stripped back nature of the material, and making it far more absorbing and intriguing than it looks.
Rating: 6/10 – once you get past some of the more awkward elements in the script – Blackway never sends his men out to find Lester and co, their search for him seems just a little too easy at times – there’s much to admire about Blackway, and Alfredson keeps it agreeably low-key throughout; a mood piece as much as a thriller, it’s a movie that doesn’t deserve to be dismissed as just another DtV backwoods drama.