One of my favorite films of 2010 was William Kaufman's Sinners & Saints, a low-budget thriller with a great leading man (Johnny Strong) and brilliant action scenes. This year, Kaufman and Strong have teamed up for another movie called Daylight’s End and it has just had its World Premiere at the Dallas International Film Festival.
Daylight’s End is set years after a mysterious plague turned people into blood-hungry creatures. A drifter (Johnny Strong) saves a young woman (Chelsea Edmundson) and joins her group of survivors who are desperately trying to defend themselves… The story is rather familiar but what set this film apart from the typical post-apocalyptic zombie movies are that the humans use powerful weapons while the creatures are fast and agile instead of slow and jerky, and these features really add to the intensity of the action scenes.
Johnny Strong proves once again that he is an amazing action star. He looks both cool and convincing with a weapon in his hands, whether it is a knife, pistol or rifle. The music and score of the film are also composed and performed by him. For his talents, we should really be seeing a lot more of him in films, but he is very particular about the films he chooses to be a part of. He was heading towards major stardom after his supporting roles in The Fast And The Furious and Black Hawk Down back in 2001, but instead of appearing in more films, he chose to focus on his music, something he did for the next 9 years until he collaborated with director William Kaufman on Sinners & Saints.
Screen icon Lance Henriksen plays the leader of the survivors and gives a commanding performance. Louis Mandylor is memorable as his brave son while former MMA fighter Krzysztof Soszynski is menacing as the leader of the bloodthirsty creatures. With a running time of just over 100 minutes and a large proportion of the film being action scenes, there is sadly little time left for character development. Audiences find out little about the characters and may therefore find some of the losses not quite as emotional as they should be.
One of the best things about this film is the action. The gun battles are meticulously choreographed and made with precision. The tactics are sound and the filmmakers have a clear familiarity with the weapons used. The fights are visceral and feel real, making them much more exciting than most of the CGI-laden films that regularly hit our screens these days.
Just like Sinners & Saints, Daylight’s End is a solid thriller made with limited money and resources. With these films, William Kaufman has proven himself to be a very capable action director. I think he is truly ready to take on something much bigger, like a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster, one that not only blows things up but also blows our minds. And with any luck, Johnny Strong will play the lead again.
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