Callow law student Harper (Tye Sheridan, The Tree of Life, Mud) wants his stepfather to pay for the accident that put his mother in a coma. But after drunkenly spilling his thoughts in a bar, he winds up taking a perilous road trip to Las Vegas, at the mercy of tattooed grifter Johnny Ray (Emory Cohen, The Place Beyond the Pines) and his stripper girlfriend Cherry (Bel Powley, A Royal Night Out, The Diary of a Teenage Girl). Throw in a leery cop (Gbenga Akinnagbe) and a lairy drug dealer (John Lynch), and Harper’s prospects look pretty bleak. But what if he doesn’t take the trip?
Playing tricks with split screens and narrative time as options open up and diverge for its beleaguered protagonist, this cunning thriller appears to be setting itself up as a neo-noir version of Sliding Doors. As it happens, things turn out to be even more slippery. When all is revealed, you may conclude that British writer-director Christopher Smith has been too clever by half, but his film Detour has style to burn and the young leads are terrific.
Certificate 15. Runtime 97 mins. Director Christopher Smith
Detour debuts on Sky Cinema Premiere on 5 December. Available on DVD & Digital from Bulldog Films.
A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.
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