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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Texas Killing Fields

MOVIE REVIEWS

TEXAS KILLING FIELDS (2011)

Starring Sam Worthington, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chloë Grace Moretz, Jessica Chastain, Stephen Graham, Annabeth Gish, Sheryl Lee, Jason Clarke, Corie Berkemeyer, Deneen Tyler, Jon Eyez, Tony Bentley, Samantha Beaulieu, Donna Duplantier, Jade Raford and Cassidy Smith.

Screenplay by Don Ferrarone.

Directed by Ami Canaan Mann.

Distributed by Anchor Bay Films.  105 minutes.  Rated R.

 

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Texas Killing Fields

About a year ago, Australian actor Sam Worthington was in danger of becoming a just another generic big-budget action hero – a slightly more nuanced Vin Diesel or Jason Statham.  In a two year stretch, Worthington loaned his craggy good looks and somber acting style to such SFX-driven wannabe-blockbusters as Terminator: Salvation, Clash of the Titans and Avatar.  Granted, one of those films became the highest grossing movie of all time, but I don’t think anyone considers Avatar an actor’s film.  (Also, for a film that was such a huge success not even three years ago, it seems to have been almost completely forgotten.)  And the other two films… well they were just bad.  Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger could have easily played the roles back in the day – and that’s not necessarily a compliment. 

That’s why it’s such a pleasant surprise that in the past year, Worthington has taken a sharp left turn back into much edgier, low-key dramatic fare.  Earlier this year, he co-starred in the political drama The Debt.  It wasn’t a perfect film, but it was quiet and thoughtful and a very adventurous choice for him – particularly because he was just a tiny bit miscast as an uptight, shy Israeli intelligence agent in the 1960s. 

Now comes this surprisingly stylish rural thriller – which also features his Debt co-star Jessica Chastain – and Worthington feels like a much better fit for a hard-bitten and just slightly bitter Lone Star detective who is investigating two possibly related killings which may be the handiwork of a long-disappeared serial killer. 

He also recently did the marital drama Last Night with Keira Knightley and has the upcoming police procedural Man on a Ledge coming soon.  Of course, one of the other several films he has in the works is a totally unnecessary sequel to the already unnecessary Clash of the Titans – so we can’t give him a total pass yet.  Still, it appears that he is giving some thought to – and taking some chances with – his potential roles.  That is a very good sign for the actor, who first got notice in the US in quiet films like co-starring in 2004 with an also then-unknown Abbie Cornish in Somersault.

The best payoff yet for his new career path comes in Texas Killing Fields, a movie that is significantly smarter and more engrossing than you might expect.

One of the finest moves which Worthington does is allow his co-stars many of the juiciest moments – in particular, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as his big city partner. Jessica Chastain as his ex-wife the cop and Chloë Grace Moretz as a possible future target. 

There is lots of sultry southern soap opera mixed in with some genuinely disturbing crime drama, and it all comes out to a sultry and tangy gumbo of local flavor and occasional shocking violence.  But it all hangs together surprisingly well, making Texas Killing Fields a pleasant surprise.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: January 25, 2012.

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Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: January 25, 2012.

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