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July 15, 2008

Felon

Felon Former stuntman Rick Waugh turns writer/director to make a compelling and gritty drama that is as much a commentary on America's failed justice/prison system as it is about the devastation suffered by an honest family man imprisoned for killing a burglar at his New Mexico home. Stephen Dorf plays Wade Porter, the owner of contracting business whose looming wedding plans to his pregnant fiancée are shattered when he chases an intruder into his front yard before killing him with a single blow from a baseball bat. Unfamiliar with conflicting prison and inmate codes of behavior, Wade becomes a doomed scapegoat in a culture of violence exacerbated by corrupt prison guards. Although the film strains on its forcibly optimistic third act resolution, it makes a convincing case against a prison system that flatly doesn’t work on any level for a civilized society. Val Kilmer gives a strong performance as Wade’s stoic cellmate John Smith, and Sam Shepherd adds charisma in a supporting role as John’s longtime friend.

Rated R, 104 mins. (B) (Three Stars)

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