Director: Michele Civetta
Writer: Alexander Felix Bendaña, Michael Civetta and Andrew Levitas
Starring: Shea Whigham, Olivia Munn, Bruce Dern, Frank Grillo, Taryn Manning, Mark Boone Junior and Keith David
The main plot of The Gateway is something we’ve seen before, but there’s something about the film that makes it better. A small time criminal is released from prison, promises his family that he’s going to look after them and then instantly returns to his life of crime with everything getting messed up in the process. What could have been a fairly standard crime thriller turns into something more thanks to the central character Parker (Shea Whigham, Fast & Furious).
The film starts with Parker, who is a social worker, going about his job. Trying to look after the children he is assigned to and at the same time struggling with his own vices. He has a drinking problem, a drug problem and a tragic past of his own that he can’t quite escape. He cares way too much about the children he is assigned to, getting heavily invested in their lives. When he gets a phone call from Ashley, whose mother isn’t home to drive her to school, he picks her up himself without thinking twice. You can see how much the job was weighed down on him over the years and how life hasn’t been kind to him. Whigham gives a power performance brining Parker to life. He’s an interesting character and the film is focused on him trying to help Ashley’s family after her dad comes home from prison. It makes a standard crime story that much more interesting and if the crime side of it was more interesting then it would be a great film.
One of the more interesting things about Parker is his history, it’s slowly revealed through the film. It’s not just told in a straightforward fashion and one line from the always fantastic Keith David makes you question everything you’ve seen so far. He is haunted by his past and it hangs over him for the entire film. His dad, Marcus (Bruce Dern, Silent Running), wasn’t a role model growing up and has his own tragic story. It feels that the film wants to be two things at once, one the broken relationship between father and son, which is a lot more interesting and a fairly predictable and cliched crime story.
The film isn’t very long, under ninety minutes, and doesn’t feel slow at any point. It’s an entertaining crime story with great characters that really make it stand out from the crowd. There’s a lot of shooting at points and the action is well directed with what feels like one long shot, with clever cuts. The film is definitely gripping while it’s on. The Gateway is a fantastic character study hidden within a standard crime story.
Signature Entertainment presents The Gateway on Digital Platforms 27th September & DVD 5th October