Blu-ray Review: Backtrace (2018)

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A veritable chameleon with a particular knack for playing disabled and/or fragile characters with the utmost of sincerity, while there are no false notes about Matthew Modine's performance in Brian A. Miller's direct-to-disc actioner Backtrace (aside from the laughable idea that one can have a spinal injection and instantly go bounding up and down stairs), the same cannot be said for the film itself.

Hoping to use Modine's talent to distract from the Grand Canyon sized holes in logic and common sense on display in the script by Mike Maples, which, in an attempt to outdo McQuarrie, Shyamalan, and Nolan, never settles for one twist when three might do, Backtrace finds the actor in disabled mode once again.

Busted out of a prison hospital by three people hoping that a cutting edge drug might inspire the amnesiac bank robber to remember where he stashed twenty million dollars in loot seven years earlier, while initially we give in to the fine if admittedly far-fetched Phillip K. Dick flavored Noirish set-up, Maples loses focus and the plot quickly spirals out-of-control.

Determined to find the escapee he's sure has been faking amnesia for seven years (X-rays be damned!), a thoroughly bored looking Sylvester Stallone graces the screen from time-to-time in half-hearted '80s cop movie mode, but sadly, the combined star power of Modine and Stallone isn't enough to save the film from its thoroughly ludicrous conclusion.

Doing the best he can with a limited budget, Miller gets a chance to stage more exciting action sequences in Backtrace than he did in the recent Reprisal and while the latter was more successful from a storytelling perspective, this film makes you wonder what he could potentially do with a bigger budget and a script that actually makes sense.

Written with a "look, ma, no hands!" glee, while invariably taking away an illogical twist or four would probably disappoint Maples, underneath the absurdity, there are moments in Backtrace where you can almost see a much better film hiding — just like Modine's twenty million dollars — in plain sight.

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