Review: DETOUR, Christopher Smith's Mind and Time-Bending Neo Noir

Associate Editor, News; Toronto, Canada (@Mack_SAnarchy)
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Review: DETOUR, Christopher Smith's Mind and Time-Bending Neo Noir
Harper (Tye Sheridan) is obsessed with the idea that his stepfather was responsible for car crash that left his mother hospitalized and comatose. Drowning his sorrows in whiskey and taking a cue from his college Law classes he wonders aloud if he can get back at the man and get away with it. However, he attracts the wrong type of attention. Hard as nails Johnny (Emory Cohen) and his stripper companion, Cherry (Bel Powley) show up at the front door the following morning. Now the trio are headed off to Vegas, concocting a plan that will either let Harper get back at his stepdad and get off scot-free, or bring everyone down with him. 
Smith said in an interview Detour is meant to be a modern day interpretation of Strangers on a Train. Smith also gives a visual nod to the 1945 noir film by the same name, Detour, though having not seen that film we cannot comment further to the connection. To go into a lot of detail about the plot of Detour would ruin any effect that it will have on its audience. Much like Christopher Smith’s seldom talked about Triangle, the writer/director has written another mind bender of a thriller. The less you know heading into Detour we hope the more satisfying your viewing experience will be. 
We will tell you this much. Once Johnny and Cherry show up on Harper’s doorstep Smith splits the narrative and the story goes off in two directions before reconnecting during the final act. The more astute viewer will pick up visual cues as each timeline unspools, but there is certainly enough to keep everyone guessing as to which outcome Harper will find himself in by films end.
Another key strength to Smith’s thriller is his young cast. Tye Sheridan fills the role of the somewhat naive Harper well. Visually he is a cross between James Dean and a young Crispen Glover. There is a very soft and innocent sex appeal to the young man. Counter to Harper’s softness are the jagged edges of Powley’s Cherry. Though Cherry has little to do with the story other than act as secret motivations for both Harper and Johnny Powley does ‘rode hard and put away wet’ very well. Arguably, these are the two characters that you should be rooting for throughout the story but there is little there for either of them to do and draw you to their side.
The real driving force of Detour though is Emory Cohen as Johnny. Holy cats is he hard in this film. Har-rrrd. A force of nature, his aggression pushes Harper to commit to the road trip to Vegas. I have not seen a singular character have such an impact on the rest of the characters in a story like this by sheer willpower alone in a while. I was watching Ben Kingsley in Glazer’s Sexy Beast all over again. It is his performance that makes Detour feel more violent than it really is, verbally punching his way through the story. Cohen’s performance is reason alone to seek out this film. 
Detour’s narrative has a time structure that unfolds and gives a thrill that I have not enjoyed as much since Twyker’s Run Lola Run. The film’s young cast convey a youthful maturity that reminisces of Johnson’s Brick; young people acting like adults in a grown up’s world. Smith winds a crafty little neo-noir thriller around his young cast of rising stars and tells a story that weaves back and forth to settle down for a satisfying end. 
Magnet Releasing will release Detour in theaters, OnDemand, on Amazon Video and iTunes January 20, 2017
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cjohnstonJanuary 19, 2017 5:27 PM

thank you, Mack.
This one looks Good; been on my list for about a month or so now.. ...over the past one or two months, I've had opportunity to flesh thru a-LOT of features on my to-see queue. .....this one's still there though.
- - -
That. ,and ~ I LOVE having my mind bent and sent thru the saw-mill.
*Recently caught a film of 2016 called ZOOM. ...LOVED it. AWESOME Stuff on display and it immediately gave me a glorious headache.
**maybe I should (finally) see Triangle now... ..

One-EyeJanuary 19, 2017 6:39 PM

Smith has been quietly building a hell of a resume over the years.

I think he needs that one breakout hit to really propel him into the mainstream, like what Neil Marshall had with THE DESCENT.

Andrew S MackJanuary 20, 2017 10:20 AM

Yes. YES! Triangle is good. Very under the radar. I would have missed it myself had not a friend piped up.

wagnerfilmJanuary 20, 2017 3:16 PM

Sounds cool. We could do with more strong modern noir.

cjohnstonJanuary 20, 2017 10:57 PM

hey, Mack.!
- - -
Not sure if/ ..when you'll see this.
..just checked Triangle out. ...Pretty Good/ Solid little film.
...I Will most likely be back to it for more viewings..
Truth be told. On initial consideration; I'm telling myself I've seen better. ..... ..And I'm saying this bearing in mind that this is in no-way shape, or form any type of a better-than -- worse than matter. *this is said in 110% Good Grace, too.
...George is Always Impressive to see. ..If nothing else, that alone; will draw me back.
If ever you get the "itch"; as I oft' times like to do, and judging by what is on display in Triangle.
-- here are several other titles that (at some point) you might Dig and/or wanna look into as well..
- Treehouse
- The Aggression Scale
- Borgman
- The Survivalist
- How I Live Now
- The Autopsy of Jane Doe
- Starry Eyes
- These Final Hours
- Nocturnal Animals
- Enemy
- Under the Skin
- Open Grave
- Spring
- Frank and Lola
- Too Late
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
p.s. - apologies if, as very well might b the case, receive reams upon reams of these recommendation type of things..

Andrew S MackJanuary 21, 2017 8:25 AM

Yes to The Aggression Scale, Borgman and The Autopsy of Jane Doe. I like those three.

I will hunt down the other three.

Andrew S MackJanuary 21, 2017 8:26 AM

Give it a go. It is not overtly Noir but still has a golden age quality to it.

cjohnstonJanuary 21, 2017 10:59 PM

I literally Just "caught" this one.. .it's apparently been out for a bit.
Judging from the Finished product - it's an "indie".
*and this Indie's a DOOZIE at that. ..
... .I'm inclined to describe it as The Book of Eli + A Lonely Place To Die; by way of Resident Evil... *with a hint of The Hills Have Eyes.

Andrew MackJanuary 22, 2017 12:12 AM

All wrapped up in the tight jeans of mortal instruments/twilight/divergent? Huh. I dunno. That trailer did nothing for me. Let us know if you catch it.

cjohnstonJanuary 23, 2017 5:12 PM

- I think a.) something might have gotten lost in translation (and articulation) here; and b.) There is absolutely NO cotton-picking point to point fingers, upon this matter. *especially when I'm the one opening up conversations and suggestions..
-- You probably as Well as anybody else around these parts by now, --- are Well aware of my e.e. Cummings like writing style...
...For whatever it is worth.
I Have seen it.
.....While others "take-aways" upon the matter might differ - I'd Safely and Confidently posit that it's MILES better than All of those you had referenced.. ..and is likely in the same ring with Aggression Scale.