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Paydirt Review

August 17, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
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Paydirt Review  

Paydirt Review

Luke Goss– Damien Brooks
Val Kilmer– Sheriff Tucker
Mike Hatton– Geoff Bentley
Paul Sloan– Tony
Nick Vallelonga– Leo Cap
Mirtha Michelle– Layla
Veronika Bozeman– Cici
Murielle Tello– Janel
Mercedes Kilmer– Jamie

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Christian Sesma
Screenplay by Christian Sesma

Distributed by Uncork’d Entertainment

Not Rated
Runtime– 81 minutes

Watch it here


Paydirt, written and directed by Christian Sesma, now in theaters, Digital HD, and Video on Demand,, can best be described as an unfortunate mess. It tries very hard to be a hip and edgy low budget dark comedy/crime movie with a little bit of action, but instead it’s a shockingly confusing, wholly unentertaining cinematic disaster. The movie is also incredibly depressing. I really don’t understand how you can walk away from this movie feeling good or happy about what you just watched.

Paydirt stars Luke Goss as Damien Brooks, a badass criminal who, after spending five years in prison, decides to get his old criminal gang back together to help him find thirty three million dollars, which Brooks hid somewhere before going to the slammer. In Brooks’ gang he’s known as “The Brit,” and the other members of his gang have hip and cool nicknames, too (like the Geoff Bentley character, played by Mike Hatton, is known as “The Brains,” and lovers Cici and Janel, as played by Veronika Bozeman and Murielle Telio, are “The Badass” and “The Babe,” and Paul Sloan plays a guy named Tony who is also known as “The Brawn”). When Brooks gets out of prison he’s technically on parole, so he has a parole officer (I think she’s played by Mirtha Michelle) and an ankle bracelet, but Brooks will find a way out of actually having to fulfill his parole obligations. Along with the gang members, Brooks is also friendly with Leo Cao (Nick Vallelonga), a casino boss that he hopes to get a job with (to, you know, “fulfill his parole obligations”).

Now, as the Brooks gang puts its big scheme into play, Sheriff Tucker (Val Kilmer), who was fired/retired after he caught Brooks five years ago, puts his own plan into place to follow Brooks around and find the hidden money for himself. Sheriff Tucker is a bit of a sad sack as he hasn’t had much to do since he was removed from his position, but he’s still got skills and determination and he wants to take Brooks down once and for all and get the money. Tucker also wants to reconcile with his daughter (played by Val Kilmer’s actual daughter Mercedes Kilmer), who also happens to be a District Attorney. And while all of that is happening, the drug cartel that Brooks originally took the money from is looking for both Brooks and the money.

It takes nearly an hour to establish all of this (there’s also a whole section involving Geoff having a sexual relationship with a younger woman that’s in the cartel) and it’s, at best, mildly interesting, at least at the beginning. As soon as everyone is introduced, the movie spends an inordinate amount of time with Geoff and Tony as they disguise themselves to look for something (I’m not entirely sure what they’re looking for or why it’s important). None of this interesting. The characters talk a lot, they swear a lot, but very little is accomplished. Sheriff Tucker sneaks around, surveilling the goings on but not doing much beyond that. And Brooks ends up getting more than friendly with his parole officer, but it doesn’t end well (it’s one of the movie’s few surprises as I didn’t see any of that coming). When the movie finally gets around to everyone looking for the money at the same time and interacting with one another, it’s too little too late because you’ve lost all interest in what’s happening. Not that you would know what’s happening anyway.

The movie attempts to explain itself at the end and wrap up the story, but, again, by the time you get to that point you’re so confused by what it is you’ve just watched. The big explanation is incomprehensible, although the movie really believes that what has just transpired is clever. It isn’t. At all. It’s just a bunch of nonsense. And the final sequence? I have no idea what’s happening there. I have no idea why the movie thinks it’s important or why the movie thinks the audience is going to believe that it’s important. Again, it all comes off as nonsense.

So how could Paydirt been improved? Maybe make the movie about actually finding the money? Maybe make it clear, from the get go, what’s actually happening so the audience can root for someone? Maybe the movie could have tried to actually be cool instead of telling me that it thinks what’s happening is cool? Maybe give less time to the Geoff storyline, as Geoff isn’t that interesting and Mike Hatton isn’t what you would call a magnetic screen presence?


Another problem with the movie is Luke Goss. In certain kinds of movies, Goss’s presence is a good thing (check out Bone Dry), but in this movie he’s just a biggish name on the marquee. He really doesn’t have much of a character to play, and he doesn’t get a chance to do the action stuff you expect to see from him because the movie has so little action in it. Goss just seems to be in the movie because the producers were able to cast him. That’s not good.


And then there’s Val Kilmer. Kilmer tries to make something out of his character, but there’s just so little there for him to latch onto. The most interesting aspect of Sheriff Tucker, outside of the cracked screen of his phone (the guy can’t afford to get a new screen, apparently) is that he’s always wearing a scarf of some kind, which seems odd for a cop out in the desert heat. I know why Kilmer is wearing a scarf (to hide the aftermath of the tracheotomy he had while fighting/recovering from throat cancer), but it’s never really dealt with in the movie (no one else wears a scarf). On top of that, Kilmer’s voice is dubbed throughout the movie and it’s a dubbed voice that sounds absolutely nothing like Kilmer’s actual voice. At times, Kilmer’s dubbed voice sounds like an Edward Burns impersonator, and then there are other times where it sounds like Louis Mandylor. To say that the “different” voice is distracting would be a massive understatement.

And Paul Sloan? The movie is not his friend. That’s all I will say.

Paydirt is a waste of time. It’s a waste of time for the cast, the crew, and, most importantly, the audience. It isn’t fun, it isn’t very interesting, and it’s not entertaining at all. It’s a sad movie watching experience. Stay away from this movie. Even if you’re a Luke Goss or Val Kilmer completist, just stay away. Tell people you saw it. No one is going to care.

Avoid Paydirt. Avoid it, avoid it, avoid it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: More than 10.

Explosions: None.

Nudity? None.

Doobage: Guys with a bulldozer, a lake in the desert, a brief shootout, cigarette smoking, a prison montage, bags of weed, a slow motion prison beating, a beating with a book, a lesbian relationship, serious weight lifting/working out, ankle bracelet hooey, a drone shot of the desert, a bunch of New Age bullshit, a flashback, a golf course, driving and talking, a brief family get together, a job interview, odd use of the word “relevance,” a casino montage, guitar playing, meditation, a vault full of files, guy talk, a floor buffing machine, a hilariously offensive conversation in Spanish, gross come ons, a wild kick to the head, choke out, a kiss inside of a car, a neck injection, kidnapping, mild bondage, a cracked phone screen, multiple bullets to the head, machine gun hooey, another brief family get together, more bullets to the head, and an ending that really wants you to believe that what you just watched was super clever and entertaining but actually wasn’t at all.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: Salton Sea, California, Luke Goss, a car wash, Val Kilmer, Val Kilmer wearing a scarf, Val Kilmer with an obviously dubbed voice, a news story montage, Gino Lamont, “And Introducing Mercedes Kilmer,” a Luke Goss in prison montage, Luke Goss riding a public bus, a cute lesbian relationship, guys watching TV and eating pizza and drinking booze and talking about aliens, people thinking Val Kilmer is a bum, Val Kilmer smelling his armpit, pen clicking, a “Norman Bates” discussion, VHS tapes, hot slow motion girls dancing together, Calvin Klein underwear, a “Day of the Dead” parade, and a catchy soundtrack that deserved to be in a better movie.

Best lines: “This son of a bitch,” “Fuck you. I got you,” “Don’t start, girl!,” “The Babe and the Badass. You know, I kind of feel that in my nutsack,” “There’s no cable,” “Lela! What’s a fire stick?,” “What the fuck was that all about?,” “Told you he’d be fucked up,” “You’re supposed to be the brains. You fucking suck at this!,” “Look, I was just trying to fuck your sister,” “Nice job, fuckface. I couldn’t help myself,” “Such a fucking flake,” “Fuck you, Geoff,” “You’ll always be my Dad no matter how shitty your life becomes,” “You think you’re slick?,” “Sheriff Tucker is back in the saddle!,” “Will you stop looking at all of the pictures, we’re looking for a door,” “It’s VHS! They’re not going to store anything important on VHS!,” “This is why I hate coming to straight bars,” “What the fuck did you tell those guys about me?,” “Did you always have that mustache?,” “Papa wants to speak to the Brit,” “Ah! Dammit! Women,” “What’s this? Coordinates?,” “Dude, it smells like shit in here. Like it actually smells like a mix of carrots and shit,” “Hey, white boy,” “See? I told you she wanted me,” “I’m sorry, jefe,” and “You beautiful sonofabitch!”

The final score: review Bad
The 411
Paydirt is an unfortunate mess and a complete waste of time for the cast, the crew, and the audience. The movie thinks it’s hip and cool and clever, but the reality is the exact opposite. The whole experience is excruciating. Avoid this movie at all costs, even if you’re a Luke Goss or a Val Kilmer completist. It’s just not worth your time.

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Paydirt, Bryan Kristopowitz