For his third film as director, J.D. Dillard adapts the 2017 biography Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice by author Adam Makos. The film shortens the title to Devotion and introduces audiences to the comradeship between naval officers Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors) and Tom Hudner (Glen Powell) during the Korean War.
Standard plot twits fill The Minute You Wake Up Dead
Director Michael Maler follows up last year’s inspirational sports drama Heart of Champions with the mystery The Minute You Wake Up Dead from Lionsgate. Russ Porter (Cole Hauser) is a shady small-town stockbroker who just lost some of the townies a considerable amount of money. He begins dating a shy waitress named Delane (Jamie Alexander) to take away some of the stress in his life.
Before long, a shocking murder occurs, and one of the two love birds may be responsible. As word spreads that there’s money behind the killing, every criminal in town wants their share of the cash. Meanwhile, Sheriff Thurmond Fowler (Morgan Freeman) is trying to investigate the murder and keep vengeful town folks off Russ’s back.
The screenplay for The Minute You Wake Up Dead comes from Timothy Holland and Michael Maile. The promotional materials for The Minute You Wake Up Dead paint the film as a noir thriller where one shocking plot twist follows another. In addition, we are promised a bloody showdown that leads to a mind-blowing finale.
The term film noir primarily describes stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and motivations. Usually, the central figure is a private investigator, a plainclothes police officer, a hapless grifter, a law-abiding citizen lured into a life of crime, or simply a victim of circumstance. In this instance, Russ Porter substitutes a stockbroker for the private investigator.
To avoid spoilers, I’ll keep my review short. Before the film’s title flashes across the screen, we get a bit of reverse chronology. Initially, I had an idea of where the film would go after this scene, and for the most part, I was right.
I will credit the writers for avoiding some of the cliches you find in some noirs, such as a sexpot femme fatale using her feminine wills to get her way. Instead, the directors choose to focus on some character building. Throughout the film, characters receive a phone call uttering a phase that ties into a title.
Regarding the acting, it’s what you would expect from a film like this. Morgan Freeman is here for a check, but Cole Hauser and Jamie Alexander are always fun to watch. The Minute You Wake Up Dead doesn’t change the game, but it’s a fine one-time watch.
Final Grade: C
THE MINUTE YOU WAKE UP DEAD is available in select theaters, on-demand, and digitally on November 4. In addition, The film will also be available on Blu-ray and DVD on December 13.
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