If you think .45 is a fast-paced revenge story à la Kill Bill, you thought wrong. Although the DVD cover suggests otherwise, Gary Lennon’s directorial debut has absolutely nothing in common with a ballistic action-flick. Instead, .45 plays like a tedious, low profile drama too simplistic to be taken seriously.
The movie first introduces us to Kat (Milla Jovovich), who lives in a shoddy New York apartment with her aggressive boyfriend Big Al (Angus Macfadyen). A very dominant character and respected gun dealer, Big Al is convinced he reigns over the entire neighborhood. When Kat decides to get into the gun business herself and starts selling weapons behind Al’s back, his jealousy tosses him into an explosion of rage that leads to a gruesome rape. With the help of a devoted social worker (Aisha Tyler) and her bisexual friend Vic (Sarah Strange), Kat finally finds the necessary courage to engage in a vicious act of revenge that could free her from Al once and for all.
Although Gary Lennon’s .45 is not a total failure, he could have easily improved the film’s overall quality by making some substantial changes to his fairly shallow script. On the whole, the movie pretends to be a tragic story about an oppressed woman plotting to take revenge on her abusive partner, but by the time she actually devises a plan to take him down, the movie is almost over. Consequently, the part we have all been waiting for is rushed and extremely unsophisticated. Kat’s vengeance may work out well for her, but for the spectators, the plot seems trite and quite familiar. .45 also comprises a high degree of violence, and is packed with an array of sexually explicit sequences. Most of the dialogue is primitive and crass, which clearly hinders Lennon from building solid character development.
After showing off excellent fighting skills and the appropriate attitude in action smash-hits such as The Fifth Element and Resident Evil, Milla Jovovich delivers a disappointing performance in .45. She never fully manages to capture true emotions and mostly fails to convince us of Kat’s dramatic situation. Positive acting honors, however, go to Angus Macfadyen, who perfectly succeeds in building a filthy and thoroughly barbarous character in the role of Big Al. You hate him from the moment he steps in front of the camera, and will continue to do so for the rest of the movie.
With .45, first-time director Gary Lennon has crafted a mediocre drama that misses its target and hardly comprises anything worth praising it for. His effort to establish elaborate character development is clearly noticeable, but he misses more than one opportunity to achieve his goals and impress his spectators. Better luck next time.
Like the movie itself, the .45 DVD is no real treat. I perfectly understand that small movies produced with a minimal budget don’t require a gigantic special features section, but a filmmaker commentary is the least a disc should comprise. For .45, this is the case.
Listening to writer-director Gary Lennon is remarkably refreshing, even though his commentary isn’t always subtle and relevant. First, he briefly explains that the original inspiration behind .45 is the work of legendary filmmaker Godard, who once said: “All you need is a girl and a gun to make a movie.” He moves on to discussing how most of the locations in the film serve as individual characters and in what ways the choice of music helps building the overall atmosphere. Guiding through most of the scenes with great insight, Lennon also focuses on the importance of his cast and crew, and the filmmaking process as a whole; including shooting the movie with a limited budget. For his first commentary, he does a pretty solid job in revealing additional information about .45, even if that doesn’t help in making the movie any better.
Other than the commentary, the DVD only includes a compact trailer gallery showcasing new Thinkfilm releases. An official trailer for .45 is furnished as well, but it regrettably scans through the whole movie and almost gives away the ending. Be sure not to watch the trailer before you watch the feature film. With a commentary that is likely more intriguing than the movie itself, the .45 DVD may serve as a satisfactory rental only in case you’ve already worked your way through all the new major releases.