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I guess I just like liking things

To be honest, I don’t even know what to write for the intro this week. Again, I have the whole plot on the back of the DVD case for “Final Decision”. There doesn’t seem to be much to it but they’re determined to stretch this out for 92 minutes anyway.

A man is looking at a photograph album, and a bored voice over tells us that the most valuable thing in the world is a friendship that lasts forever. The album is full of pictures of two little boys playing together. This would be Brion and Kyle. As the pages turn, they get older as they grow up together. The album fades out and now we’re at a funeral. The mourners walk away and fade out as Brion and Kyle approach the grave. The fade out was to show time passing, as Brion kneels before the tombstone and doesn’t fall into an open grave.

I was right. Brion tells the tombstone it’s been 10 years. It’s the grave of his father. Kyle shambles around the cemetery patting gravestones and saying hello to the dead. Brion is having a deep and meaningful conversation with his dad, explaining that he and his sports team are off to the Championships. Kyle finds a new grave, and tells Brion that his father has a new neighbor. Then he steals the flowers off that grave and plonks them onto Brion’s dad’s grave. Classy. He’s got a sort of weedy American Italian accent, like a 14 year old who’s watched “The Godfather” a couple of times and has decided he’s in the Mafia now. Brion tells Kyle that stealing flowers from dead people isn’t a great thing to do. We have now established that Brion is a guy with morals, and Kyle is a ne’er do well (I’ve always wanted to say that about someone).

IDK my BFF Brion?

IDK my BFF Brion?

The chap looking at the photo album (we can’t see who it is) is in prison. The feet of a guard are approaching as he looks at graduation pictures. I have to say, as a “time is passing” trick, the photo album is a neat one. Now the lads are at practice, and having a running race because boys need to compete at things. Brion cheats by taking off early, but Kyle catches him up and they cross the line together because they are BFFs. A few of the team are having a laugh when another team mate comes over and asks Kyle if he’s gay. Instead of saying “No, I’m not,” he punches the guy in the face. This gets him kicked off the team, so he goes into the car park and does some angst all over the place.

The lads from the team are playing cards in a barn. Cards is just not as much fun if you’re not getting itchy, itchy hay all down your trousers. Brion turns up and asks where Kyle is because he knows something is wrong. Of the three guys playing cards, exactly one of them is able to act. The other two just blurt out lines like someone is threatening them with cattle prods if they mess it up again. Brion wisely decides to look for Kyle elsewhere.

Kyle is busy having a drunken breakdown in a park. The police have found him and called Brion or something. I don’t know, Brion turns up anyway after checking a bar. The big game is the next day and the cops wish Brion luck. The next morning Brion goes to visit his father’s grave and steals some flowers to put on it. Kyle is up a tree smoking and being a rebel. An angsty, angsty rebel.

It’s game time, the marching band is warming up, the umpires are standing around and the cheerleaders and practicing. The team is being worked into a frenzy in the changing rooms and then it’s kick off. A longish montage follows of football moments, none of which I understand because American Football confuses me. I’m amused to note this is the High School State Championship – I assumed it was college because all the students are so old and hanging out in bars. The game is drawing to a close and Brion’s team is losing by a little bit. He begs the coach to let Kyle play because he’s a magical super game saver. Those aren’t his exact words. Coach thinks about this for a nanosecond and then puts Kyle in. Are you as surprised as I am when the team wins? I know! Totally unexpected. In the spirit of all truly amazing comebacks from a losing team, Kyle wins it for them in slow motion.

Right. Let’s review. Brion is a good guy, dedicated to sport and clean living. Kyle is a nice enough guy who likes a drink, a party and his motorbike. They are the best of friends and consider each other to be brothers. Are you with me so far? Has this movie rammed these concepts into your face yet?

The group from the team go to the saloon for some beers and smokes. Are they in high school or not? I don’t know. Maybe they’re from that one place where the legal drinking age is ten. Kyle takes his lady out for a spin on his motorbike to a cheesy music track which sounds like it was played on a $15 Casio keyboard. They go back to his house which is a cottage behind a big house and make love in front of a fire. How this is relevant to the plot is not clear at this point.

Brion and Kyle are sitting around talking about how Brion has been offered a scholarship at some big amazing University. They’re going to miss each other terribly. Brion, Kyle, Kyle’s lady Alison and Brion’s mother sit around watching home movies all of which are on 16mm film, even the ones from the 1990s. I’m getting on a bit and my memory isn’t what it was, but I’m pretty sure handicams existed then.

There’s a road trippy sort of montage, and someone broke out the Casio again for the music. Kyle is driving Brion to university. In dorms, Brion’s new roomie comes in and meets Kyle and offers him a beer which is unlikely for a student to do. Just saying, beer isn’t free. He also offers Kyle some marijuana, but Kyle says no because he doesn’t mess with that stuff. They leave Brion at the College and there’s some plinky sad music on the Casio. The Roomie is unmoved by the tight hugs and almost tears.

A caption reads “Two Years Later,” which is good because I was worried they might try and drag out the story but this fast forwarding is a thing I can get behind. The College team is at practice, and the coach takes Brion aside for a chat. The coach says Brion is on the team for reals. His roomie is happy.

Kyle is pumping gas for a living back in the old home town. The guy he punched in the face is now a cop who pulls in to talk to him. Kyle says he’s starting over having broken up with his lady and done his own body weight in drugs. He and Brion are no longer in touch. The guy playing The Cop sounds like he’s in a school play. He gets a call and has to go, and Kyle watches him drive off like a man who has fallen in love with a police car. Don’t pretend you haven’t been there. You have.

Brion is getting on the bus to go to the game and his Roomie tells him that now he’s the QB he can have all the ladies in the world. The College wins the game by some massive margin and Brian gets interviewed for the national news, which Kyle sees as he eats his cornflakes in a dingy apartment. He gazes at Brion on the TV like a man who’s just fallen in love with a police car.

The Cop takes Kyle out for a spin so he can see what police work is like from the front seat instead of handcuffed in the back. The Cop compares policing to playing football, because the two things are almost exactly the same. They drive up behind a couple having a domestic in the street. The guy punches the woman in the fakest way possible and then runs off. Kyle helps the cop chase the guy down because even though he’s spent 2 years inhaling, injecting and drinking everything he can lay his grubby hands on, he’s still Football Fit. That’s how it works, right? Drugs make you stronger, fitter and faster! Kyle tackles the guy (in slow motion) and decides he should become a policeman because it’s awesome and you get to jump on people in puddles.

Back at the college, Brion’s roomie is trying to get him to come out and party with them after a game. He’s the one who takes drugs, as you recall because you’re paying attention, and I can feel a Peer Group Pressure moment coming on. Brion says he has to study, but Roomie talks him into going out.  The party is posh, and not very crowded, but there’s a pool and some random mist. Probably pot smoke. There’s a guy named Antonio at the party, and once Brion has been sent over to get a drink, he and the Roomie discussing bringing Brion in on the thing they do.

In a plush room in the house, Brion is told he’s about to discover the finer things in life, such as a huge painting on the wall which is pretty unattractive but is old and therefore a finer thing. Antonio brings out a tray heaped with cocaine. The ladies are driven into a frenzy of sexual desire by the coke, but as neither of them can act it’s more like watching Kermit and Miss Piggy kiss than anything interesting. Or perhaps watching a man make out with a tree. A dead tree. Brion snorts a line of coke. Oh no! Downfall!

The next day, Roomie tells Brion he needs some help selling drugs. Brion puts up a fragile shell of resistance, and the lure of money and ladies breaks it. Brion is nervous, they’re waiting to make the deal and I’m just going to let this movie run while I put some more wood on the fire.

Almost lifellike

Almost lifellike

Right, the fire is stoked and I’ve checked what the dogs were barking at (it was a rabbit) and I’m back to find they’re still making the deal. A guy has turned up with a bunch of coke, which Roomie checks and says is fine stuff. He takes it, pays and they’re off to deliver. Brion is thrilled at how easy and fun it was. The coke gets dropped off in the middle of a fairly brightly lit bar. Antonio is happy, but does not smile because he is made of plastic. He hands over the cut of money and a little bit of coke to say thanks for being such good delivery guys. Antonio asks Brion really nicely if he’d like to keep working for him. Brion wrestles with his morals for a second or two and then agrees. Just like that.

So, let’s review. Good Guy Clean Living Brion is about to turn into a drug dealer and probably will ruin his sports career – if there’s not a montage of him messing up at practice I will be sadly disappointed. Meanwhile, drugged up no hoper Kyle is going to be a cop. Now, I know how that turns out because it’s on the DVD case, but it shouldn’t be too much of a reach to see where this is going.

I have to say, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a “drug deals” montage. There’s a couple of deals, with Brion standing around like a tree stump, and then they’re at the pool with the ladies snorting some coke. Ah, now they’re shopping for clothes because it pays to look sharp. After the montage, Brion calls Kyle to say hi even though they’re supposed to be out of touch. Kyle is cleaning his gun as he talks. Brion is measuring out coke into portable sniffer tube things which I hope he washes after use. Kyle invites Brion to his Police Academy graduation. Brion, with his hands full of cocaine, gets a bit miffed about this because Kyle never mentioned he was going to be a policeman. He cheers up a bit after having a quick snort.

Kyle is back together with his lady, who also can’t act. You know how some actors do over the top gestures that just feel “too big”? Well this actress does that, but with her mouth. In his dorm, Brion is writing a card to Kyle when his Roomie walks in. Brion leaves, but forgets the card which he’s written “I can’t believe you’re a cop” in, so that’s probably bad news.

Kyle, Brion and Alison are leaving the police station after the graduation when Kyle is approached by a couple of special agents. They tell him they’re setting up a drug task force and they want Kyle in the task force. Considering he’s been a cop for about an hour so far, it’s a good call I reckon. The agents leave and Kyle tells Brion he’s going to ask Alison to marry him.

Back at dorms, Brion is returning after his weekend away. Roomie is lurking on his bunk, and wants to know why Brion didn’t tell him about Kyle being a cop. Brion doesn’t understand why it’s a big deal, having never been told that dealing cocaine is illegal. Roomie is livid, slamming around the room with his shirt off and shouting about drugs and deals. He does tend to take his shirt off when really annoyed. Roomie tells Brion that he has to cut ties with Kyle because he can’t stop dealing without making the other dealers cross.

Oh fantastic, another montage! Here’s Kyle and Alison choosing the ring, buying a house and fixing up said house. Here’s Brion making a name for himself as the best QB ever. The montage breaks, and Brion is arriving for Kyle’s wedding. Kyle is impressed with Brion’s shiny car. Brion tells him he got it for being an amazing QB, which is a lie. He got it with drug money. Oh Brion, lying to Kyle? Your downfall is complete. As Alison and Kyle dodge the rice and run down the church stairs, the music hits a discordant note and the frame pulls back to reveal it’s a photo in the album from before. You know, the one they use when they don’t have time to edit a montage. The guards boots approach again, getting closer this time.

A bunch of guys are shooting up in a dark room. They’re laughing and joking and doing a lot of “dude I’m so wasted right now” acting. One of them is Kyle in his role as undercover cop. He is sitting there like a statue and not blending in at all. As one of the guys preps a needle, Kyle asks him if the needle is clean. The guy with the needle gets all shouty and demands Kyle’s arm, which he notes is smooth and lacking track marks. Outside in a van, the task force can see and hear what’s going on and let it keep happening. Eventually Kyle talks the guy into letting him inject himself. He takes a while to get ready, which gives the other cops time to raid the place. What they would have done if the guy had just jammed the needle in I don’t know, but I’m not a cop.

Brion and Roomie are chatting in the change rooms. Brion is all tired and sad and says he can’t do the druggy life anymore. Roomie is grumpy, but he was already shirtless so that saved some time. Brion goes to shower and is confronted by Roomie who is trying to sound like a gangster but sounds like a drama student trying to sound like a gangster. He pushes Brion around a bit and demands he stay in the drugs game.

Ryan and Alison are having a barbecue in the backyard. “I’m so happy for Brion” says Kyle as we cut to Brion driving his fancy car and drinking scotch from the bottle. “All his dreams are coming true!” Apparently Brion has been awarded a prize for being the best QB in the country. Far from being happy, he’s out in his car on a look out point, drinking the rest of the scotch. Kyle and Alison talk a lot about how happy Brion must be, to really really drive home the point that Brion is in breakdown. You know, in case you missed it. Alison tells Kyle she’s pregnant and their happiness is intercut with Brion’s misery. A point is just not worth making if you can’t make it in a really heavy handed way.

Alison is shopping with her mother. I wouldn’t bother to mention this except it’s another montage. Anyway, we’re back at Antonio’s place where a bunch of guys are discussing deals. The next deal is dangerous, so Antonio tells Roomie to take extra people to cover him. The guy they’re buying drugs off isn’t happy about this but sells him the drugs. As Roomie is leaving, the dealer calls him back to look at something in the trunk of his car. It’s a badge, the dealer guy is a cop! The same dealer guy from before, even. In fact, the only guy they’ve ever done any deals with. Is a cop. And has been selling them drugs for a couple of years now. The cop. That is a long, long undercover operation.

Everyone grabs guns and starts shooting the place up at random. The undercover cop gets shot in the chest and falls down. Roomie finishes him off with a burst from his own gun. After some confused shooting and shouting, Brion grabs Roomie and they drive off, leaving the other two to be arrested. I wasn’t expecting any kind of noise or action having sat through the toneless tedium of the rest of the film, so I’m slightly over excited now.

The police have seen the car, and are in pursuit. Kyle is getting his clothes on for another undercover operation, and he knocks his wedding photo off the chest of drawers, shattering it in some clumsy symbolism of their soon to be shattered life. Brion runs a red light, forcing a truck to move slightly to one side which somehow then causes a car to blow up. I could rewind it to see how that worked but please don’t make me. The car? Well it belongs to Alison on her way home from the mall. Hence the shattered photograph. I told you it was deep.

At Antonio’s house, Roomie and Brion rush in and scream their faces off at Antonio. Roomie is so angry he doesn’t even stop to take off his shirt. Brion is suddenly an actual tough guy. Antionio is pretty irate himself, realising that he’s lost the drugs and the money. Oh yeah, and Scott got shot or something, but the drugs man! The drugs!

Conan used to be grittier

Conan used to be grittier

Scott isn’t dead, unless he is and this is the other guy. One of them’s in the police station being shouted at by cops who’ve heard about Alison’s death now and are extra super cross about everything as a result. Scott-or-whoever offers to let them know things if they protect him from the drug baron. One of the cops decides to throttle him, which I suspect might be classed as police brutality. As it turns out, there’s a guy coming with more drugs and Scott-Maybe tells the cops when and where, but they decide not to deal after all because they’re so angry at the world, and sweaty.

After a shower and change, the two cops go to tell Kyle that his wife and unborn child are dead. I’m sure there’s an excellent reason why they couldn’t do that before interviewing Could-Be-Scott, but I don’t know what it is. “Kyle’s wife died” “Should we go tell him?” “Eh, maybe later.”

You’ll be thrilled to know that the death of Alison has given us the gift of another montage. The funeral, where only Kyle is standing by the coffin in a field, the sadness, the anger, close ups of roses, the plinky Casio music. It’s a masterpiece of its montage type.

Kyle reports for duty. The agent is explaining about the huge drug deal Scott-Possibly mentioned, and they’re planning to sting it. Kyle has a look on his face that just screams “This time it’s personal.” The time lines feel a bit messed up at this point, but I’m  unable to dredge up the enthusiasm to have a think about how it fits together so I’m just going to run with it.

All the drug dealer people head off to make the deal. What is the collective noun for drug dealers? A Snort? Anyway, they’re at the docks. Kyle is chatting to the head agent guy and droning on in a wooden monotone about how he was supposed to die, not Alison. The agent also lost his first wife, and tells Kyle that the pain never goes away. Kyle looks like this was an unhelpful comment.

Night falls on the boatyard. Antonio is driving Brion to the deal. Brion is still in two minds about this whole drug dealing thing and he tells Antonio he wants out. Antonio says nope, because Brion has all the knowledge of the deals and would have to be murdered. Antonio doesn’t say “you’ll sleep with the fishes” but I can tell he really wants to. The drug boat enters the docks, and a fisherman who’s actually a cop radios the arrival in.  “The otter is in the pool” he says without giggling. Well done him. The music is all tense, the guy driving the boat looks terrified at having to drive a boat. Its about to go down people.

See if you can guess who has the special 'Nerd Voice'

See if you can guess who has the special ‘Nerd Voice’

The snort of dealers park their cars and walk slowly to meet the other dealers. They all stand around looking tough and wooden. Antonio calls someone on a fabulous 90s phone – it’s someone checking the goods. The goods are good, so he calls someone else to do a bank transfer on a laptop. The police team in the van can see everything he’s doing because they have a nerd who’s done some hacking or something. The transfer is for $120,000,000 and everyone who sees this says a lot of swears about how much it is. The computer screen (white type on black) says “To cancel transaction, press any key.” There is no time limit on this, because it’s a full minute and a half later that the police storm in, point a gun at the guy and glare while a cop presses any key and stops the transfer.

The guys checking the goods are stormed by the cops, and then a bunch of cops pop up from the docks and point guns at the two groups of dealers, who have been having a chit chat on the dock time not being of the essence. Antonio is having none of this, and lets loose with his machine gun. Does he get shot? Yes of course he does, but in true Dire DVD fashion, he keeps shooting even as he dies. Brion is told to go steal a boat, and while he’s running up and down looking for one in the dozen or so that are right there, Kyle breaks cover.

Would you believe Kyle shoots the boat the other drug dealers are on right in the gas tank? No? Neither would I, but here it is. A second bullet makes the spark and the boat blows up. I should mention Kyle is running at this point, so his aim is amazing. He chases Brion up a gangplank and tackles him to the ground before turning him over. He didn’t even know it was Brion until then, and now he’s all heartbroken. Brion explains how he couldn’t get out of the drug deals. The music is all violins and the camera is spinning around and around them.

Kyle tells Brion that his group caused Alison’s death, and that he would have helped Brion if Brion had only come to him. Brion starts to cry and explains that it was him driving the car that caused the accident. Then he pulls a gun on Kyle, presumably because he let his wife leave the house and get killed. I don’t know why he pulls a gun on Kyle, I just don’t know. Kyle pulls a gun on Brion and the camera spins around them some more while they chat. Kyle drops his gun and talks about football a bit. Brion puts the gun in his own mouth. We get a close up of Kyles face as a gunshot sounds and cold tomato soup splatters onto his cheek. A wide shot reveals that Brion didn’t pull the trigger, one of the other dealers is shooting Kyle from a distance.

Kyle does a dramatic fall over, revealing the guy behind him with the gun. It’s the Roomie, in a shirt which can only mean this was done in cold blood. He smiles at Brion, who shoots him twice. They didn’t have the budget for more soup, so Roomie just grabs where he might have been shot and falls down. Brion pulls Kyle onto his lap and cries for his dead friend. A single cop comes to tear him away and put him under arrest. There are 10 cop cars and a helicopter and they just sent in the one guy to handle Brion who has a gun. This must be the guy no one likes much.

The prison guards shoes stomp on a caption reading “Four Years Later.” The photo album closes with a thump, and the cell door is opened. Brion is lead through to the visitors cell where Kyle has come to see him even though Kyle was shot 7 times in the chest. They hug like they did on the football field because Kyle has decided he never liked Alison that much anyway. Credits.

Wow. So many montages. So many.  On one hand, quite a good way to show the passage of time. On the other hand, quite lazy. What was left in the non montage bits was entirely heavy handed and dull. “Here, look how happy this couple is!” says the movie, shoving itself in your face. “Now look! This bit is sad! It is sad!” Okay movie, settle down. Sheesh. Maybe if the plot had been a bit less predictable and the script had been in any way good it wouldn’t have had to be so shouty with the plot points.

Was the script that bad? Oh it was worse than bad. Every line was drenched in deep meaning. Every comment was profound, in a tortured way. Most of the actors gave all their lines in that husky voice actors use for emotional moments of deep truth and it was annoying. It was also just… bad. Brion’s football career didn’t suffer one jot from his being out all night drugged up on cocaine and drinking like a fish. He wasn’t kicked off the team, a random drug test never found him full of drugs. Nothing. He was still the greatest QB College Football has ever seen, even while being a dealer/drug addict.  The minute Alison said she was pregnant I knew she was going to die, because that’s just what happens in movies like this. A young cop with a young family? Someone has to die. It’s in the handbook, and straying from the same tired formula is hard.

The acting itself ranged from “Okay” to “Wow, sleeping with the director I bet!”  Most of the cast have not gone on to bigger or better things, and a couple of them didn’t go on to anything in the movies at all.  I promise you they are no great loss to the industry.


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