Friday, 5 August 2011
TARGET PRACTICE (2008)
Written & Directed by: Richmond Riedel
Starring: Eric Dean, Aaron Hawk, Joey Lanai, Solomon Hoilett, Eltony Williams, Bill Elverman, Richard Deguilo, Daniel Rosenberg
If there is one thing that Target Practice is, it's a helluva tense filled survival tale. Peppered with frequent bursts of fire-powered action, Richmond Riedel's flick manages a feat rarely seen in action cinema these days: keeping the tension wound tight for the entire running time. Rarely does the dire nature of our protagonists dilemma lose its urgency as a group of regular guys head off on a routine fishing trip only to stumble upon a homegrown terrorist training camp. With half the group gunned down, the other half on the run and a possible CIA undercover operation about to be blown, Target Practice is a rare gem of micro budget action cinema that delivers tension and action with expert skill.
Utilising a great setting, some impressive actors and pacing and staging the action for maximum impact, Riedel overcomes (what was presumably) a tiny budget and a familiar set-up to craft an action film which serves up the requisite thrills as well as giving us characters that are much more than mere stereotypes. They might not always be likable but these blue collar guys are thrown into extreme circumstances and certainly grow and learn to adapt over the two grueling days of survival they are put through. Riedel wisely gives us characters we can sink our teeth into, splitting them into two groups: dealing with the situation they've found themselves in and escalating bouts of violence with varying results. They shout, they get scared, they argue, they learn to fight back and refreshingly they talk out what they are gonna do. It's never clear who is going to survive and this all adds to the tension. The characters really feel lost in what seems to be a never-ending woodland area, again adding to the mounting dread and the cast (all relative unknowns) give it their all and convince as desperate men and ruthless killers. Ok, so the bad guys sometimes feel a little low rent and don't always fully convince as deadly terrorists in their scruffy camo gear but they're certainly unrelenting in their determination to kill our heroes.
It's the kinetic charge that makes Target Practice so successful as an action film. Riedel rings every knot of tension out of every situation and stages some impressive gun battles as the hunters take up arms against their pursuers. This all leads to an impressive finale where the heroes forge a plan to ambush the would be terrorists and save their fellow friends who have fallen into the enemy hands. The terror is felt as those who have never fought before have to kill in order to save themselves and their friends all the while going up against trained killers. The tension reaches breaking point and what follows is an expertly staged fire fight that packs as much an emotional punch as it does a visceral one.
Visceral is a good way to describe Target Practice and while the flick perhaps OD's a little on the herky-jerky camerawork it's a minor quibble for what is an accomplished action film that has the right balance of character and action and overcomes its minuscule budget to be a genuine edge of your seat thrill ride.