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Standoff – ★ ★ ★ ★ DVD Review


A young girl nicknamed Bird (Ella Ballentine) is taking nature pictures while visiting her parent’s grave at the cemetery when she witnesses a gangland style execution at a nearby burial.  The priest, the widow, her bodyguards are all killed by a masked assassin (Laurence Fishburne), who Bird manages to photograph without his mask on.  Naturally the professional killer has a strict “no witnesses” policy when it comes to his work, chases the girl (killing her aunt’s boyfriend along the way) who runs to a lonely house occupied by Carter (Thomas Jane).  Confused, the former soldier takes a bullet in the leg as the killer approaches.  Carter’s wife had left him after tragedy befell the family, and even though he had turned to alcohol and was actually readying to kill himself, he is determined to protect this little girl who ended up on his front step.  Carter manages to blast the killer with one of his two shotgun shells as he herds Bird upstairs.  Both wounded, killer and guard; both armed, one at the base of the stairwell and one at the top of the stairs.  Standoff.

Nearly the entire film takes place in Carter’s house on the stairwell.  Very limited locations, an extremely small cast, probably a limited budget, but Standoff really delivered.  The tension was incredible, almost claustrophobic at times.  The entire cast was spectacular, but you can’t help but notice parallels between Jane’s Carter and his Frank Castle from 2004’s The Punisher.  The storyline was really quite simple, but it still kept me on the edge of my seat.  You might think that an eighty minutes of two guys shouting at each other up and down a staircase would be tedious, but there really wasn’t a wasted minute and any slower segments were filled with suspense.  The psychological battle between the two men was fantastic and really kept the story rolling.  Both Fishburne and Jane are very good actors, and a small piece like this, with its restrictions really highlights how strong they are. 

Standoff was intelligent, and a really good, solid suspense thriller.

Bottom Line: It reminded me at times of a western.

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