Poker Night Movie Review
Written by TGM
DVD released by XLrator Media
Written and Directed by Greg Francis
2014, Region 1, 105 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray and DVD released on February 10th, 2015
Beau Mirchoff as Jeter
Ron Perlman as Calabrese
Giancarlo Espositi as Bernard
Corey Large as Davis
Titus Welliver as Maxwell
Halston Sage as Amy
Ron Eldard as Cunningham
Michael Eklund as The Man
Rookie detective, Stan Jeter, makes a stupid rookie mistake, and gets kidnapped by a sadistic murderous pedophile. Tortured for weeks in a dingy basement turned chamber of horrors, stumbling in and out of lucidity, Detective Jeter's battered and broken mind begins to recount the tall tales told by the older, more grizzled detectives during their regularly scheduled poker nights. Each veteran of the force, over their alcohol of choice and stale pretzels, spin a yarn of their own most harrowing and life-changing cases from years past, which once recalled, paves the way for the younger Detective to formulate his own plan of escape.
The idea of gaining inspiration and guidance from the senior members of the squad while incorporating their past experiences is an interesting hook, but one that ultimately falls short. Sure each respective backstory is tremendously entertaining in and of themselves, but how each actually translates into helping our protagonist get out of his current dire predicament is a bit of a stretch. I'd expect that Detective Jeter, or anyone with firing synapses, would have made the same choices whether he remembered his poker nights or the time he finger banged the prom queen. The gimmick doesn't quite work, but it is a hell of a fun ride nonetheless.
There are some hilarious moments in Poker Night where the psychotic kidnapper recounts his rebirth from nerdy cubicle worker to twisted psychopath. The hyper-stylized scenes of a well-dressed man kissing his wife goodbye in the morning and heading out to work for his mundane 9 to 5 job in his sensible mid-sized sedan, all while wearing his creepy killer mask will make you simultaneous laugh and cringe. It's dark and demented humor at its very best.
The strength of Poker Night rests with its stellar cast. Ron fucking Perlman (Hellboy, Sons of Anarchy)? Giancarlo fucking Esposito (Breaking Bad, Revolution)? Titus fucking Welliver (Bosch, Sons of Anarchy)? Are you kidding me? I could watch a movie of these three guys alone simply reading binary code for twelve hours and still remain veraciously enthralled. Throw in an underrated Ron Eldard (ER, Justified) and a fantastically skeevy Michael Eklund (Arrow, Bates Motel) and there's greater acting chops in this direct-to-video thriller than all of the theatrical releases currently playing at your local Mega-uberplex combined.
Half Reservoir Dogs, half Saw, with a splash of over-the-top Natural Born Killers thrown in for good measure and you get the wonderfully entertaining and equally disturbing Poker Night. The acting is generally top-notch, the story moves at a brisk pace, and the ultimate resolution is a satisfying one. Oh, and you'll never look at superglue the same way ever again.