Director: Christian Sesma
Script: Christian Sesma
Cast: Luke Goss, Val Kilmer, Mike Hatton, Mirtha Michelle, Mercedes Kilmer, Paul Sloan, Mara Fimbres, V Bozeman, Muriella Telio, Nick Vallelonga
Running time: 82 minutes
Year: 2020
Certificate: 15

‘The Brit’ (Luke Goss) goes to jail for five years in California for smuggling pot. Somehow connected to the Brit is 33 million dollars of cartel money that’s gone missing and urban legend claims that it is buried somewhere in the desert, waiting to be rediscovered…

The Brit (aka Damian), on being given early parole, in between pretending to get a ‘proper job’, gets back together with his old gang, which consists of Brains (Mike Hatton), Brawn (Paul Sloan), Babe (Murielle Telio), and Badas$ (Veronika Bozeman) and together they plan to retrieve the money without alerting either the cartel boss, who’s still searching for it, or the Feds.

Ex-sheriff Bill (Val Kilmer) is also after Damian and his gang, since he fell out of favour with his former boss when the sting he ran on Damien resulted in a rather mediocre haul of drugs and the loss of two police officer’s lives. He ended up retiring in shame; well, sort of; it’s not made clear. And now, for some reason, he seems obsessed with taking Damien and his posse down, whatever the cost.

Paydirt’s plot is nothing new and is sadly somewhat convoluted and not particularly well managed or explained by writer/director Sesma (Vigilante Diaries). Sesma’s writing is very much at teenage level, giving rise to some sub-par Tarantino-lite dialogue, 90s style character introductions and some clumsy characterisation.

Acting-wise this is Luke Goss’s film, but even he’s not really great in this, but at least he’s got innate charisma to keep you rooting for his rather hard to discern character. Sadly, the once great Val Kilmer seems to be phoning his performance in from long-distance and comes across like he’s not sure what he’s supposed to be doing. It’s well known that Kilmer’s had some serious health problems recently so perhaps these impinged on his performance and energy levels. I guess we’ll never know. Kilmer’s real-life daughter, Mercedes, plays his on-screen daughter in the film, but it’s a pointless role and was obviously written in as a condition of his working on the film. The Brit has a parole officer (Mirtha Michelle) to tag along with him and she has much more screen presence than Ms Kilmer. The others in the cast aren’t particularly bad or good, they just suffice.

Paydirt tries hard to be a hip heist caper, yet most of the heist happens either off camera or in flashback, and therefore the film fails in telling its heist story satisfactorily. Sesma gets too bogged down with the backstory, resulting in a short film feeling longer than it should, and being much more confusing than it needs to be.

On a more positive note, the film’s score by Nima Fakhrara was pretty decent for a B-grade film and some of the songs playing out throughout the run time were half-decent too. Also Cinematographer Stefan Colson has done a reasonable job on the visuals, and makes the barren desert setting look great.

Sadly, Paydirt is just another run-of-the-mill crime thriller with little to recommend it, with its messy plotting, mediocre acting and anti-climactic ending. However, for all its faults I did still quite enjoy it, although, to me, it felt more like the pilot for a mid-range TV series that wanted to introduce a hip criminal gang led by an ice-cool Brit, facing up to an on-going adversary in the shape of drug cartel family.

101 Films are distributing Paydirt on DVD and on digital. Special features were sadly non-existent on the review disc that I was sent.

Justin Richards reviews Christian Sesma's heist movie: 'Paydirt' starring Luke Goss and Val Kilmer.
2.0Overall Score
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About The Author

After a lengthy stint as a print journalist, Justin now works as a TV and film producer for Bazooka Bunny. He's always been interested in genre films and TV and has continued to work in that area in his new day-job. His written work has appeared in the darker recesses of the internet and in various niche publications, including ITNOW, The Darkside, Is it Uncut?, Impact and Deranged. When he’s not running around on set, or sat hunched over a sticky, crumb-laden keyboard, he’s paying good money to have people in pyjamas try and kick him repeatedly in the face.

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