Written and Directed by Christian Sesma, Paydirt is an action-comedy heist film starring Luke Goss and Val Kilmer. The film often comes off as a poor man’s version of Smokin’ Aces, which always came off as a poor man’s Guy Ritchie film. That’s not a bad thing, as I love Guy Ritchie movies. (mostly) and I always found Smokin’ Aces damned entertaining, but Paydirt features a lot of the same old tropes; stylish rapid-fire edits, tough-guy dialogue, silly named thugs, and a plethora of backstabbing and twists and turns.
I had a good time with Paydirt, but it falls short of being great due to some bad acting, spots of cringe-worthy dialogue, and an over-reliance on style over substance. This film does not feel fresh or original. It’s been done before, but I would argue that it’s been done before because it makes for an entertaining, albeit vapid and brainless movie. If anything else, Paydirt is absolutely tons of fun. If you come at it with reasonably cautious expectations, you may just have your mind blown.
Luke Goss plays Damien Brooks, aka The Brit, a charismatic criminal who gets arrested in a petty drug bust. Val Kilmer plays Sheriff Tucker, the law enforcement officer who threw away his career to bring Damien down. When The Brit gets released from prison, he’s assigned parole officer Layla (Mirtha Michelle). Shortly after release, Damien reunites with his old crew to dig up a whole lot of money that was buried a few years ago. His team has silly code names; you have The Beauty (Murielle Telio), The Badass (Veronika Bozeman), The Brain (Mike Hatton), The Brawn (Paul Sloan). Their characters rarely break from their designated nicknames. Twists and turns abound as Damien, and his crew of criminals faces challenge after challenge and a betrayal or two, all leading up to a high stakes showdown. Meanwhile, Sherrif Tucker is relentlessly hot on their trail.
“…Damien and his crew of criminals face challenge after challenge and a betrayal or two, all leading up to a high stakes showdown.”
Luke Goss is a great lead. He’s charming, smooth, mysterious, and he can be very funny and pull oof menacing flawlessly. He’s only one really solid role away from reaching Jason Statham-level stardom. It’s lovely seeing Val Kilmer, especially after all he’s been through in recent years. He has very little screen time, but his scenes are well-acted and attention-grabbing. His daughter, who plays Jamie, is only featured briefly.
Nothing noteworthy about her performance, but she wasn’t honestly in the movie long enough to formulate a solid opinion of her acting prowess. There’s a sequence involving The Brain and The Brawn that went on a bit too long. It’s dialogue-heavy, but the humor didn’t work for me, and the actors didn’t have the right chemistry to pull it off. The rest of the cast didn’t impress me. Some of their line delivery was just flat out bad and often cartoonish.
If you’re looking for originality, you won’t find any here. We’ve seen these kinds of plots ad nauseam, but to its credit, Paydirt makes the formulaic tropes and situations fun. This movie doesn’t take itself seriously, and it is far better off for it. Eric Potter’s editing is fast-paced and instills a direct sense of excitement. There ‘also a really neat sequence intended to show the passage of time, complete with rock music and shadows that loom over Damien’s jail cell. It was incredibly well-done and was a really neat way of showing the passage of time, as rock music plays and shadows loom over Damien’s jail cell. I found that scene particularly effective. If you’re into these types of movies where the criminals are the good guys, and the plot is thin and far-fetched, this one will be a more than decent way to kill 90 minutes.
"…Paydirt is absolutely tons of fun."