Charlie Tango, written and directed by Simon Boisvert, begins with air traffic controller Kim (Stacie Mistysyn) discovering she’s working the night shift by herself. While nights are usually slow, unfortunately, this one is not. Even worse, the system that connects her to the rest of the airport (or some such) is down for maintenance, and the backup is not working. Of course, all these events happening at one time means tragedy is inevitable.
After being put on suspension pending an investigation after two planes collide, Kim feels lost. Her detective husband, Jeff (Bruce Dinsmore), tries to get her to talk about it, but he’s shot down at every turn. However, her extramarital affair partner, Charlie (David La Haye), offers her a job at his investment firm, which flips real estate. She’s in charge of new client payments, while Charlie handles all the funds going to the various contractors and vendors he’s hired.
With the fear of being sued into oblivion hanging over their heads, Kim convinces Jeff to invest their savings with Charlie. But then Kim learns that her lover is running a Ponzi scheme and fears she’s too entangled to escape unscathed. Will Jeff find out about Kim’s infidelity? Is Kim liable for the plane crash and the stolen money Jeff is collecting?
“…Kim learns that her lover is running a Ponzi scheme…”
Charlie Tango does not need the prologue involving the collision. For all the time it takes up, it is really only an excuse to have Kim be at rock bottom and desperate for money. Most of that could be set up via a few conversations and lines between the leads. Jeff isn’t introduced until nearly 9 minutes into this 99-minute thriller. As such, their relationship is not fully understood for a bit. Plus, the meat and potatoes of the story are Charlie’s fraudulent business and whether Kim gets out with her life intact. Plus, it leads to a very unsatisfying ending that is unearned. It is more shocking for its own sake than a logical extension of these characters or this story.
To that end, when that’s the focus, Boisvert’s film is very engaging. For starters, it is refreshing to see a film centered on middle-aged people who act and talk appropriately. Kim thought being married and having a career would fulfill her, but it does not. Despite being well-meaning, Jeff is unable to connect with her anymore, partly because he is not very supportive of her side gig as a singer. This is what led Kim to start sleeping with Charlie; admittedly, though, how they met is left vague.
The story involving non-existing addresses and a scheme to uncover the shady practice is tense. There’s a sense of urgency to what Kim and Jeff need to do that is where the bulk of thrills lie. Mistysyn has a tricky role, as it is hard to like her. The character is a cheater and is unwilling to know what’s right in front of her eyes until it is (maybe) too late. The actor straddles that fine line between despicable and likable and creates a person audiences understand, if not root for (not at first, anyway). Dinsmore is great as the husband, who just wants things to go back to normal. The scene in the van where he confronts Kim about the affair is excellent. La Haye is fun as the slimy antagonist with zero scruples.
Charlie Tango spends too long on what is ultimately a simple setup. But the actors are good, and the main narrative thrust is engaging. The ending is a little bit of a letdown, but Boisvert’s film still delivers the thrills and intensity, which matters most in films like this.