The Debt of Maximilian
“The Debt of Maximilian” is a low-budget dramatic thriller that follows the life of Max (Travis Lee Eller.) Max is a pretty unlikeable lead character from the start; he suffers from a gambling addiction that he keeps his family in the dark about and has insurmountable amounts of debt to repay. At home Max has a pregnant, stressed out wife and a small child. As the couple is facing foreclosure on their home Max becomes desperate for cash, so much so that he is willing to do almost anything to get it.
Throughout the film Max strolls around town looking for money, trying to place gambling bets, and just being all around desperate. When he runs into his younger brother, Kyle, played by Mark Valeriano, who, in my opinion was the strongest actor in the entire movie, is where he gets into real trouble. Kyle has been selling drugs for cash, and asks Max to hide his money for a while. Max, who is unable to control himself around said wads of cash, of course runs himself into a mess again. There’s violence, threats, chase scenes, and some poorly choreographed fighting.
Which leads me to my next observation; let’s talk about the general quality of this film. Well, the editing is not good, the cinematography is not good, and the acting varies from passable to just bad where I can’t recommend this to a general audience. That being said, when I read the budget for this film, a mere 10,000 dollars I understood its shortcomings much more. It is very hard to make a film on that kind of money, a herculean effort by the director that should not be ignored.
That being said, there is potential here. Does the film fall into the “so bad it’s good” category? Yes, yes it does. Maybe that would make some of you reading this want to see it even, and, in theory, that’s not really such a bad place to be in for an unknown director. I think the filmmaker, Saxon Moen, could be a legitimate B-movie director on Lifetime or something similar. Heck, I could actually see this film being purchased by Lifetime in the edited state that it is in right now.
Is this a film that would be a critical darling? No, but, I’ve seen other ultra low budget indies that have absolutely no potential to capture any sort of underground audience. The difference here is that this one does have something to the point where I think this director could gain a kind of cult following, and potentially even make a living off his efforts; and that is a feat in and of itself.
For Moen, I do hope that happens and he finds his way with an underground audience. If he made another film, I would be more than willing to watch it, this film did hold my attention as well. I got through the entire thing without feeling the endless need to skip forward, it had entertaining action bits and some fun sequences. If you do watch this though, take it for what it is, a bit of fun in a so bad it’s good way. I don’t think this film takes itself too seriously and it could serve as a guilty pleasure, or a bit of fun for a Friday or Saturday night.
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