Plot: An unknown shooter has opened fire at a police funeral and while the suspect remains at large, the possible options are limited. Gannon (James Badge Dale) is well aware of how few potential suspects are on the list and he also knows that most of them are associated with his militia group, as these men all possess the firepower and skill set to engage in such a firefight. So rather than risk the police raiding the club and shutting it down, Gannon has a plan to gather the members, hunker down and figure out who was responsible. If the group turns over the shooter, the others can evade suspicion and the militia will avoid intense negative attention. As the night progresses and the men’s stories unfold, the situation only becomes more complex and the truth seems to become even more distant. Can Gannon put the pieces together and figure out who the shooter is or will things escalate beyond mere interrogation?
Entertainment Value: This is an intense, rather dark movie that is driven by some great performances and a solid script, which combine to slowly ratchet up the tension and craft some highly effective atmosphere. The narrative does what it needs to do, but the movie is driven by the characters and performances, which allows for much more depth than in most thrillers of this kind. I also appreciated that while the militia men are explored and their darker sides exposed, the film doesn’t lean on stereotypes to force feed its message. There are some obvious threads of social commentary, but they’re woven with skill and The Standoff at Sparrow Creek doesn’t preach, nor does it overly simplify these complicated characters. The tone is dark and serious, as well as grounded and mostly believable, so this all leads to some excellent tension, especially one some of the twists and turns begin to uncoil. No issues with pace either, as the movie jumps right into the narrative and keeps a consistent flow of plot movement, with no slow stretches or wasted scenes to speak of. In the end, this is a tightly wound, well crafted thriller that earns a solid recommendation.
As the movie depends heavily on character driven moments, the cast of The Standoff at Sparrow Creek had to deliver and then some. I was quite impressed with how well the small, but talented cast rises to the occasion and even in the most intense scenes, comes through with the goods. This is a small scale, intimate kind of thriller, so much of the movie rests on their shoulders, but this ensemble carries the film and never stumbles along the path. James Badge Dale has the lead and turns in the best of the efforts, which should be no surprise. Dale is always reliable and ups his usual game here, which means he is on point from start to finish. The script gives him good character depth to work with and he brings Gannon to life in vivid fashion, while bringing intensity and emotion to the role in spades. The cast also includes Happy Anderson, Brian Geraghty, Chris Mulkey, and Patrick Fischler.