I have long been a fan of Guy Pearce, whose penchant for taking on small but meaningful roles has created one of the most diverse and surprising resumes for an actor of his caliber. Each week in 2020, I’ll be reviewing one of my Guy’s films, exploring just how wild his career has been.
Disturbing the Peace is, uh, terrible.
That’s obvious from the poster, the title … hell, even the synopsis: A small-town marshal who hasn’t carried a gun since he left the Texas Rangers after a tragic shooting must pick up his gun again …
Guy Pearce stars as Jim Dillon, who accidentally shot his partner to death during a hostage situation. Devon Sawa (the star of Final Destination) plays Diablo, a bank robber who manages to take over Dillon’s entire town in order to hijack a Brink’s truck full of money. The two naturally butt heads. The two also clearly took the role for paychecks. It happens. No judgment on them or you, either, if you choose to watch Peace even though there’s not much of a reason to do so.
Dillon’s small-town Sheriff Andy Griffith-esque gun-free lifestyle includes a flirtation with local midriff-bearing waitress Catie (Kelly Greyson), who beats up bad guys to prove she’s a paragon of progressive representation. His avoidance of firearms isn’t much of a plot because he’s pretty quick to start blowing robbers away. Heck, with only 90 minutes, Peace gets down to business pretty quick. A personal favorite moment is when Diablo’s crew disable the town’s access to cellular data by using wire cutters on an exposed cell tower just off a backroad next to some farms. Not a fence in sight.
They cut all the power somehow, too. Most heists require stealth, but this one goes for all the bombast that its catastrophically low budget can muster.
Oftentimes stories about men who have retired their gun — and phallic manhood — involve some amount of soul searching before picking up the ol’ steel cock for another round of murder. Not so here! Dillon doesn’t really learn any lessons, and in fact his resumption of joyful lead ejaculation builds to a silly climax where Catie loans him her father’s horse and rifle to chase down a motorcycle-riding baddie. John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum this isn’t, and a few awkward cuts later, Dillon simply executes the man. “Justice,” he declares. Something like that. Last year’s Dragged Across Concrete approached police brutality through an empathetic and disturbing lens. This isn’t that.
211, director York Shackleton’s debut, was anchored with an ever-watchable Nicolas Cage performance. Frankly, Pearce is maybe a little too competent to star in a Shackleton movie. These films require the star to be a charismatic black hole, to embrace the utter lack of sympathetic motivation and, well, character. Pearce humanizes his subjects, even when he’s phoning it in. Problem is, there’s nothing human to Dillon. Even his tragic backstory is just the dumbest damn friendly-fire incident in police-schlock history. The dissonance doesn’t serve to make the film any more entertaining or watchable. It’s January: Go watch some Oscar bait instead … or a different Guy Pearce movie.