From the first ten minutes and all its related marketing materials, Die in a Gunfight is clearly about Ben (Diego Boneta) and Mary (Alexandra Daddario), star-crossed lovers who are trying to run away together. It’s a story as old as time, or at least as far back as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
For some reason though, the film presents its narrative as one that has never been seen on the silver screen before. At least, that’s what one must think when so much of the runtime is dedicated to explaining the Hatfields and McCoys like rivalry between the protagonists’ families and how the two lovers want to run away together. Between the over-narration explaining all of this from a tired sounding Billy Crudup, and Ben and Mary sharing their hopes and death dreams for what feels like an eternity, there’s little room for actual action or suspense. In fact, for a film titled Die in a Gunfight, there’s only one 30 second gunfight and a spattering of poorly choreographed fight sequences. If Ben and Mary had actually tried to escape together instead of constantly discussing it, Colin Schiffli’s feature could have been injected with some sort of tension.
A desire to needlessly explain every character’s frame of mind could have been slightly overlooked if Die In a Gunfight had any sense of style. Sadly, the film thinks that a few split screens and slow motion shots constitutes a visual style. There’s no interesting camera work to be found here, just a drab collection of greys and the occasional splash of red to seem neon-like.
Like Ben, I tried so hard to feel something during Die In a Gunfight, but all I got was a flurry of punches, each laced with excruciating boredom.
The Silver Lining
Unlike the rest of the film, the animated sequences in the first act actually have a sense of style, appearing like a neon-drenched pop art comic book. They make the psyches of Ben and Mary come alive in a way that feels fun and not tedious. Had they been more spaced out, Die In a Gunfight might not have sputtered to the finish line.
Die in a Gunfight is available now on your favorite Video on Demand platform (Amazon Video, VUDU, etc.).