Available to stream on Amazon Prime, Vudu, Tubi, TVOD platforms iTunes, Fandango Now, Google Play, YouTube, to rent or buy
Reviewed by Ishrat Jahaiara Quazi-The movie starts with Jay(Chioke Jelani Clanton), an Uber driver, narrating a short story of how his mom had this poodle who was confronted by a pit bull. And, at first, his mom gave the pitbull the benefit of the doubt but the pitbull ended up attacking the poodle and went on to do so with many other dogs. After this, we don’t see Jay until the second half of the movie. Harold Price(Geoffrey Lower), a wealthy psychopath, is introduced next in a pitch meeting scene with two innovators. Pete(Ron Kaell), a recovering alcoholic, is seen attending a meeting where he’s sharing his story with other attendees. I’m guessing it’s an AA meeting. That was the first five minutes of the movie. A lot is going on in this story, so I will try my best to stay focused.
Andre Welsh’s Disrupted brings back the age-old story of searching for the truth after the past comes alive in the present. The story follows Pete, a widower, in his quest to find the murderer of his wife when a similar killing takes place after 30 years.
The movie doesn’t take long before Harry murders two people. One of the kills was during his run-in with a drug dealer and the other where he kills an attendee at a gas station after losing his credit card. Soon after these deaths take place, one of the cops informs Pete that the murders are similar to how his wife died 30 years ago. Although Pete has been trying to forget the incident, he hasn’t completely gotten over it. We see fragments of his memory are reflected in how his wife’s story is chopped up into scenes that last a few seconds throughout the film. It’s almost like the audience is getting glimpses of what happened along with Pete. It’s a genius storytelling move. Ok, so, remember Jay? Here’s where he appears again. Pete has a daughter who he very much loves. I should’ve mentioned that earlier. She’s getting married soon and he’s supposed to be visiting her. She calls him an Uber and the driver happens to be Jay. On the way to her place, Jay picks up his cousin and they sort of pull out a gun on Pete. He gives up his wife’s ring and some cash to Jay. While they’re counting somehow Pete reveals that he’s searching for his wife’s murderer. Jay says that he knows the suspects. And, things build from there. Now you have these three main characters, Harry, Pete, and Jay, who are interconnected to each other’s story of violence and this cat-and-mouse chase. The only difference is that the tagline of this movie is “No one is innocent,” so it’s not much of a cat-mouse thing.
I’d say that Welsh wrote and directed a pretty cool crime-thriller that comes with social commentary. The plot isn’t new. There’s always the murder, chase, and then revenge in crime movies. And, this isn’t much different. But, of course, the storytelling is what makes this film interesting. There are commentaries on race, class, and gentrification in Oakland. The characters have contradicting personalities. The film strays away from using stereotypical personalities of the identities represented. Jay, who’s a Black man, listens to hard metal. Pete comments on how he didn’t think Black people listened to “that kind of music.” To which he responds that he didn’t know white people drive Volvos, which Pete owns. The race and class issues are evident in the characters. It’s a character-driven story. The fact that a wealthy white man keeps getting away with all these murders says a lot about the society that allows them to stay unnoticed. There’s another message of class that is highlighted when Pete and Jay talk about not having a place to live at. Jay assumes that poverty and homelessness were a “Black people issue” as he says. Class struggle isn’t specific to one group of people. The analysis of social issues isn’t in your face in this film but it’s alive in these little moments where the characters are interacting with each other’s world. It’s a backdrop for the story and an interesting one at that.
Also, Lower’s acting is terrifyingly good. His lack of emotions is disturbing to watch but, greatly written and portrayed. Pete isn’t the hero he’s supposed to be. It feels like it’s his story throughout the film. However, I would like to argue that Jay is as important as Pete here. The story starts with him and ends with him. By the end of the movie, you don’t remember Pete that much, at least for me. Clanton and Kaell gave great performances as well. Kaell was able to connect with the audience with the grief of losing his wife and setting out for revenge. His character is very tough and mellow at the same time. While his character didn’t make much of an impression on me, his acting was convincing. I don’t think there’s a hero in this movie. Clanton’s character being a Black hard metal listening hipster was interesting. I rarely see that combination of character. And, his line deliveries are direct and consistent. There are some funny moments between his character and his cousin which adds a little humor during the serious scenes. I would say most things work in favor of the story. The subtle comedy isn’t unfunny. Like, there’s a dinner scene where two friends of Harry’s wife come to visit. Harry says something and they express the fakest laugh I’ve ever seen. It’s hilarious. I am still scared of Harry. I’ve said this already but, good job on creating a truly menacing character.
One last thing I want to point out, I’m a huge fan of transitions in movies and this film does not disappoint me. It uses sound and visuals to create one of the best transitions I’ve seen. The movie was edited by Nate Tam and music composed by Julian Scherle. I haven’t seen their work before but, I’m impressed. The story flows well. The little details in the transition are satisfying to watch so, look out for those!
Disrupted is an interesting addition to the crime-thriller genre. It brings something new to the table and I think it’s worth a watch.
The directorial feature film debut from writer/director/cinematographer Andre Welsh, is now available for audiences to stream on Amazon Prime, Vudu, Tubi, and other streaming platforms and across TVOD platforms iTunes, Fandango Now, Google Play, YouTube , among others globally to rent or buy
DISRUPTED stars Ron Kaell (“Trauma,” “Nash Bridges”), Geoffrey Lower (“Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman,” “Hook”), Drew Seeley (“Pitch Perfect,” “Another Cinderella Story”), Michael X. Sommers (“Sorry to Bother You,” and upcoming “Matrix 4”), Marie Wilson (“As the World Turns,” “General Hospital”), Daniel Roebuck (“The Fugitive,” “Final Destination”), Amy Paffrath (“The Purge: Anarchy”, upcoming “Roe v. Wade”), and introducing Chioke Jelani Clanton.
I’m a huge fan of genre films but especially ones that can weave in social commentary. Though I knew it would be tough to balance the two, I set out to make character driven crime-thriller set against the backdrop of Bay Area gentrificaKon, juxtaposing big tech money and the all but exKnct middle class and the resentment for one another that brews.
When we set out to make this, we didn’t want to follow a formula and since it was a fairly ambiKous script for the budget we had, we had to shoot it in an unconvenKonal way. So, since I was also the DP, we mainly had a crew of two…Myself and our co-producer/sound guy. It was someKmes overwhelming but also afforded us much more Kme to work with the actors.
I had been trying to get my first feature film made for a few years with no luck so I decided to switch gears and write a script that I knew I could pull off for a lower budget. I wanted to do a character- driven thriller but with the backdrop of Bay Area gentrificaKon yet sKll be able to sprinkle in some comedy.
I really wanted both the protagonist and antagonist to be relatable – themes that tap into both the good and bad side of everyone. Hiding in plain sight and resentment are some of the themes of the film.