Screener Review: RISING FEAR (2016)

Rising Fear is the story of former Marine, Ryan Taylor, a man who's civilian life is thrown into chaos when he's implicated in a terrorist bombing in Pittsburgh. With federal agents AND a terrorist cell baring down on him, Ryan needs to use every skill he's learned to stay one step ahead and prevent an even bigger terrorist attack from happening.

Oftentimes, indie action films are notorious for their slow pacing and lack of energy. Any concerns about this movie's pace are shattered within the first five minutes. Rising Fear's plot is like the bus from Speed; it hits 50mph early on and NEVER slows down after that. The film never stops moving and the hyper-caffeinated, Paul Greengrass-esque visual style only helps to ramp up the intensity. The action set-pieces are all very well done and some of the stunts and visuals are genuinely impressive.

On a technical level, this film obviously chooses raw style over polish, a decision that works very much in its favor. It makes smart use of camera angles, fast editing and stock footage to create a grand scope on a limited budget. Sure it won't be mistaken for a glossy blockbuster, but as far as indie action films go, it reaches a level of intensity and grand scope that few others can match. All this from what is essentially a microbudget thriller!

If there's one area the film suffers, it may be that the characters feel underdeveloped at times and get lost in the chaos. The film's breakneck pace leaves few opportunities to get to know these people and it would've benefited from a few moments of peace to break up the freight train that is the film's plot.

Director/Star, Tom Getty, has a great every-man screen persona that serves the film very well but we're not given many opportunities to see him take a breathe or reflect on his predicament. This is where films like Die Hard excelled; we got to see John McClane reflect on his (horrible) situation with a sense of self-deprecating humor. This went a long way toward humanizing him in the eyes of the audience.

The film's story seems to come right out of a 90s era thriller; something that John McTiernan or Jan DeBont would have directed in their prime. This is crossed with a more modern, handheld/quick cut aesthetic and the results are surprisingly strong. It's obvious that Getty and his team know how to create a strong cinematic illusion. Even on occasions where the VFX don't quite hold up, the scenes are so exciting and well constructed that you really don't care.

The film's action is broad and bombastic, eschewing the technical intricacy of Hong Kong action for the more grand Hollywood style of action.  The action scenes come fast and furious and are built to ratchet up the tension within the story.  The film's true standout is a sequence where the hero is in a car, speeding down a snowy highway being chased by an Apache helicopter that's on a mission to destroy him.  This sequence is the culmination of the film's action and the true embodiment of its potential.

Where most microbudget filmmakers would have settled for making a film about two people in an apartment talking about life's problems, director Tom Getty has made an action epic that stands alongside the studio thrillers of yesteryear in its ambition and scope. Indie action filmmakers would be wise to check this one out when it's released later this year. It might seem like hyperbole to say that a filmmaker is going places, but in this case it's hard to deny talent.


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