Last night the missus and I watched a crime thriller film – the 2014 movie directorial debut from writer / director Greg Francis, “Poker Night”.
In Warsaw, Indiana – Stan Jeter (Beau Mirchoff – “The Secret Lives Of Dorks”) has just been promoted to police Detective. The film starts with him lying prone of his back, covered in blood, and he narrates as the film then takes us back over the events that brought him to that point.
A team of detectives regularly hold a poker night, where they tell new newest recruits stories about their time on the job – their successes and their failures – while they play. When Jeter leaves the building after the game, he is kidnapped by a vicious masked man and locked in a basement.
Whilst imprisoned Jeter realises that his captor also holds a young woman, Amy (Halston Sage – “Bad Neighbours”, “Grown Ups 2”), with whom he has a prior relationship.
The unnamed bad guy (Michael Eklund – “The Call”) relates his story to Jeter gradually throughout the film and we discover that he is a paedophile who lives by a code – 1. have sex with young girls, 2. kill anyone who stands in his way.
The stories he heard at poker night are interspersed throughout the movie. The detectives doing the telling include Cunningham (Ron Eldard – “Roadie”), Calabrese (Ron Perlman – “Hellboy”) and Maxwell (Titus Welliver – “Argo”) – who turns out to be Amy’s father. Jeter needs to use the lessons learned from them to try to outwit his captor and save both Amy and himself.
This is a sometimes confusing tale, due largely to the number of times that the story switches backwards and forwards in time, but is certainly entertaining. There is a nice line in humour running throughout – particularly with flashbacks in the bad guy’s life during which he is always wearing the mask that maintains his anonymity even when working in the office, drinking in the bar, etc. and the depiction of various people using the internet in one scene.
We thought – unlike many reviewers it seems – that despite the occasional confusing moment, this was a well made film, albeit that it had the feel of an anthology film at points, with a good visual style and some clever twists and turns in the plot. Worth checking out…