After being administered an experimental drug, accused bank robber Macdonald (Matthew Modine) is dragged to landmarks of his crime to try to discover where the money was stashed. Unfortunately Backtrace also drags Matthew Modine through a plot as hollow as the actors around him. Sylvester Stallone makes what has become an annoying, yet increasingly common token appearance purely to get his face on the cover. Stallone adds nothing to the film despite his talent, and appears to be simply reading a list of tropes from Law and Order. Honestly, Backtrace looks feels and acts like a TV crime drama, but not even a very good one. Repeated dialogue throughout adds nothing to the story and feels like the point in a TV where you know in the US there in some crucial commercial break but in the UK we receive only a fade to black followed by the same dialogue you saw two second earlier.
Backtrace reveals itself in the first few scenes when the bank robbers argue with gun wielding aggressors because someone with more power ‘changed the plan’ to screw them over. It’s at this early point we know we’ll see nothing special, and you’re not left disappointed. In an attempt to change this and throw in a little immersion, director Brian A. Miller shakes the camera a lot and bully’s the viewer with effects to make us feel disorientated in an attempt to match Modine’s emotions. Unfortunately it’s over used and creates confusion instead of clarity. I mean, yes I was disorientated, but I also lost a sense of plot and cared very little about getting it back.
To defend Backtrace is hard, but Modine does put in a good performance, the action scenes are decent and I’d probably happily watch it on a Sunday afternoon whilst I reluctantly cleaned the house, but I wouldn’t choose to watch it again with any concentration. If you really love Stallone you may enjoy his starring role come cameo, but otherwise I’d probably avoid Backtrace and leave it in the straight to video category where it should be.
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