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Into the Ashes Review

September 18, 2019 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Into the Ashes
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Into the Ashes Review  

Into the Ashes Review

Luke Grimes– Nick Brenner
Frank Grillo– Sloan
Robert Taylor– Frank Parson
Marguerite Moreau– Tara Brenner
James Badge Dale– Sal Porter
Brady Smith– Brad Engels
David Cade– Charlie

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Aaron Harvey
Screenplay by Aaron Harvey

Distributed by RLJE Films

Not Rated
Runtime– 98 minutes

Buy it here


Into the Ashes, written and directed by Aaron Harvey and now available on Blu-ray and DVD, is an appallingly bad low budget thriller that seems to revel in the fact that it’s also an anti-action movie. Despite having the always awesome Frank Grillo in the cast and a more than capable Luke Grimes, Into the Ashes just bores the fuck out of the audience with a revenge story that isn’t very thrilling or cathartic. The movie does have atmosphere and looks good, but that kind of thing will only get you so far. When the movie actively refuses to show you what’s happening, it’s a wonder the movie’s investors didn’t demand their money back.

Luke Grimes stars as Nick Brenner, a furniture warehouse worker with a troubled, mysterious past. After returning from a hunting trip with his buddy Sal Porter (James Badge Dale), Brenner finds his wife Tara (Marguerite Moreau) dead in their home and his old friend Sloan (Frank Grillo) in the room. Brenner is surprised to see Sloan there, as Sloan was still in prison the last Brenner knew. But Sloan managed to get out of prison, and now he’s back in town to settle up. See, back in the day. Brenner and Sloan were in a criminal gang of some sort and they made a big score of some sort. Instead of everyone getting to live happily ever after, Sloan ended up going to jail after their big score and Brenner disappeared with all of the money. With Sloan in jail, Brenner started up a new life with a job and a wife and a little house out in the country.

Now, when Sloan finds all of this out, he’s pissed and feels betrayed that his old friend would take everything and disappear. So Sloan and his henchmen (they drive him around in a Cadillac so you know they’re henchmen) kill Tara and then, after briefly questioning Brenner, shoot him several times. Sloan thinks he knows where they rest of Brenner’s money is stashed, and with Brenner now dead, it’s all his.

But Brenner isn’t dead, he’s just badly hurt. Brenner tries to stop Sloan but ends up in the hospital, handcuffed to the bed. The local authorities, led by Brenner’s father-in-law Sheriff Frank Parson (Robert Taylor), believe that Brenner killed Tara. Brenner obviously didn’t do it, and he’s going to make sure everyone, including his father-in-law, that he’s innocent and that Sloan did it. So Brenner eventually breaks out of the hospital, steals a police car, hooks up with Sal again, and they go looking for Sloan. “Mayhem” ensues.

Into the Ashes takes forever to get anywhere. When the action should be ramping up, the movie instead decides to move as slow as possible, which is just annoying. I’m assuming that writer/director Harvey is going for that “low key intensity” thing, but all that strategy does is drag out the plot. Outside of a nifty knife through the top of the hand scene and a decent “trying to shoot a guy in the dark” scene, it takes nearly an hour for the action to get going. There’s absolutely no reason for that. The entire plot could have been set up in less than thirty minutes. I mean, it’s not like there’s anything particularly special about the movie’s set up. Just get on with it. The rundown Southern town that the movie takes place in is, yes, rundown and we get that the movie is all about desperate people doing desperate things in a desperate place, but we only need to be told that once, maybe twice. The audience doesn’t need to be told that every goddamn time someone drives somewhere or stands outside.

We don’t get to see Sloan and his henchmen menace Tara. We barely see Brenner go after Sloan. We don’t see Sloan and his henchmen actually looking for the money. When Brenner does break out of the hospital and hooks up with Sal it feels like it takes an hour to do all of that. When the story finally gets to a possible confrontation between Brenner and Sloan, there’s a shootout that has some nice sound design but you can’t really tell what the hell is going on. Someone gets shot and dies but you have no idea who it is. And then there’s a “final confrontation” between Brenner and Sloan, but it all happens off screen, which makes no sense at all. None. Even if the budget is low and the production only had Frank Grillo for a few days, that’s no reason not to have him fight the protagonist at the end of the movie.

And then there’s Robert Taylor’s Frank Parson. He comes off as a potential badass who, when the shit hits the fan, could bring the pain, but the movie doesn’t pull the trigger on that. For the most part, he just drives around, talks quietly, and occasionally draws his sidearm but doesn’t shoot anyone. Outside of potential star power (he did star in Longmire, after all), I have no idea why Taylor is even in the movie. His part could have been played by literally any older actor.

So what is the point of this movie? To defy expectations and “do something different?” If that is what Harvey and company were looking to do, mission accomplished. Unfortunately, it’s a wasted mission and wasted effort because the end result is terrible. It’s boring. There’s nothing thrilling at all about this thriller.

Luke Grimes does an okay job as Nick Brenner. He has charisma and an intensity that the movie just refuses to use to its fullest potential. He does a serviceable job in the action moments he’s allowed to do, but, like the entire movie, he goes through the motions and isn’t allowed to provide any sort of payoff.

Frank Grillo is completely wasted as Sloan. He’s a sleazebag badass criminal that you want to see do something, but outside of that knife through the top of the hand scene he doesn’t really get to do anything. He’s just in the movie. Marguerite Moreau is completely wasted, too, as she’s in the movie like five minutes as Tara Brenner. Why doesn’t she get a scene where we see her, well, do anything interesting?

I’ve already talked about Robert Taylor so I’m not going to rehash all of that. James Badge Dale has a few okay scenes as Brenner’s devoted pal, but he, too, is wasted.

The only two characters who have any personality and get a chance to do something beyond exist are Brady Smith, who plays dipshit sheriff’s deputy Brad Engels (it’s almost like he’s acting in a different, far more interesting movie), and David Cade, who plays Charlie, one of Sloan’s henchmen. There is also a fat guy at the furniture warehouse who, I assume, is Brenner’s boss, who gets to do more in his one minute or so of screen time than just about anyone else in the movie. That’s ridiculous.

So how could the movie have been saved? Having the characters do more. More action. Less long, boring shots of the town (again, we know the place is rundown and the people there are desperate, but we don’t need to be told that every fucking minute someone goes outside). You know, thrills. Into the Ashes is supposed to be a thriller. There’s a bit of atmosphere on display, but, for God’s sake, do something with it. Don’t bore the audience.

If you decide to get this movie on DVD or Blu-ray, check out the two behind-the-scenes featurettes that are on it and try to figure out what the hell movie they’re talking about, because it sure as fuck isn’t Into the Ashes.

Goddamit, this movie pisses me off. Depresses me. It shouldn’t be this bad, this awful. It just shouldn’t.

Avoid Into the Ashes. Even if you’re some sort of Frank Grillo completist. Just say you saw it and move on. No one will question you. No one.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 5

Explosions: None.

Nudity? None.

Doobage: Some guy fucking around with a fire for some reason, a furniture warehouse where workers can apparently smoke while working, orange throwing, town gossip, beer drinking, attempted kitchen sex, alleged bedroom sex, a private eye that needs four grand, knife through the top of the hand, using coffee filters to stop a hand from bleeding, of screen killing, a fat douchebag boss, talk of a hunting trip, drug delivery, shooting a rifle in the dark, talk of ice cream, bullet to the back, coughing up blood, attempted water drinking, assault, dish washing, oldish coffee, a trailer out in the middle of nowhere, a flashback to an action scene, a hotel parking lot shootout, shotgun hooey, a gas station shootout, a sort of car chase, shotgun butt to the face, and an underwhelming (and I’m being generous here) ending.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: “And Frank Grillo,” a furniture warehouse where workers can apparently smoke while working, Frank Grillo, talk of prison food, a grocery store, a gross and disturbing childbirth story, two grand in a money clip, tuna, off screen killing, Robert Taylor, room 102, the total lack of a final fight between Frank Grillo and Luke Grimes, a “the law couldn’t do what I did” conversation, and an underwhelming ending (I’m not repeating the “generous” part. You know I’m being generous here).

Best lines: “Who’s this? Oh, that’s Bruce,” “I told you I’m not napping, I’m meditating,” “Shit happens,” “Ah! He shot me!,” “You killed her the minute you put that ring on her finger,” “We were a fucking family, and you tried to kill us,” “Nick, I’m sorry,” “I always knew you were trouble, Nick,” “I don’t like this, Sal. I don’t like this one bit,” “What are we looking for, man? I don’t know,” “Coffee’s been on about an hour,” “You were supposed to die in that house,” and “I’m still going to have to take you in, Nick.”

The final score: review Poor
The 411
Into the Ashes is a disaster. A low budget thriller deliberately devoid of thrills or action or anything interesting, it just plods along for 98 minutes until it mercifully ends. Frank Grillo is in it as the bad guy, but he doesn’t get to do much of anything. And Luke Grimes stars but he, too, gets to do even less. And why is Robert Taylor in the movie outside of name value? I don’t understand what the point of this movie is. It’s just awful. For the love of God avoid this.