I have been debating whether this movie qualifies for my “Random Movie of the Week” since I started this blog just a few weeks ago. It has just over 38,000 votes on IMDb and my cut off for this is usually 20,000 votes. Whenever I bring Felon up to fellow movie goers, they have not heard of it. And it really is a shame that others are aloof to this crime/drama because it is so well written and superbly acted. So that is why I am choosing Felon as my random movie of the week. For comparison purposes I would say it is the John Flynn’s Lock Up meets Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption.
Felon follows Wade Porter (Stephen Dorff), a man with a young family and is about to open his own business until he accidentally kills an intruder in his family’s home in the middle of the night and is sentenced to prison. Porter then has to struggle to fend off the gangs in the prison with some minor guidance from the hardened prison veteran, John Smith (Val Kilmer), all while attempting to please the violence-driven prison guards lead by Lt. Jackson (Harold Perrineau). Here is the trailer:
As I mentioned earlier I cannot believe Felon is not more know by movie goers! The story is very emotionally driven both inside and outside the prison by capturing the world in the prison versus the one outside of it. You feel the fear and uneasiness of Porter as he gazes out of his cell and when he trudges into the block with the unpredictable inmates. The fight scenes in the block felt very real by not being over choreographed like I feel a lot of other films tend to do. I think the reason the fight scenes were done so well is that the film’s director, Ric Roman Waugh, is normally known for his stunts. So he knew how the fights should be shot and how to choreograph them. Outside the prison, the toll of Porter being in prison takes on his family is effectively done without focusing on it too much or too little. Same could be said for Lt. Jackson and his life in the prison versus outside of it.
But the reason Felon stuck with me was the fantastic acting. I consider Stephen Dorff to be an underrated actor. His performance in this was great by making Porter appear tough and together in front of the inmates while his life turns to shambles outside the prison was impressive. A lot of his success in this role is probably attributable to the chemistry he has with Marisol Nichols who plays his wife. Val Kilmer, as usual, embodies his role but this time as the wise and stone cold inmate John Smith. The role that I feel was most important (next to the lead role of course) was the head guard, Lt. Jackson. Harold Perrineau (most would recognize his from Lost where he played Michael Dawson) really makes you hate him for how two faced the guard is while at the same time an everyday parent, which again, makes the film feel authentic.
Now you can find this movie on Amazon’s Instant Video for a price but in my opinion it is well worth the three dollars. I give Felon a 9/10 because of the captivating performances and authentic feel.