Road to Revenge Image

Road to Revenge

By Andrew Stover | November 3, 2021

The Western genre is famously known for showcasing the dramatic triumphs and defeats of gunslinging, morally ambiguous cowboys who have a score to settle. But, like so many Westerns before it, directors Kellen Garner and Christopher Sheffield’s thriller, Road to Revenge, deals with the concepts of revenge and honor.

The movie opens with a long shot of a Stetson-wearing cowboy on a horse. This cowboy is the fugitive Micah Grady (Jeremy A. Lopez), and riding beside him are Charlie (Gary Bennett) and Jack (Zac Bushman). They have captured the bounty hunter Lucy Royal (Alexis Moeller). Soon, a shootout transpires as Lucy’s strong-willed brother Travis (Kellen Garner) comes to her rescue.

We soon learn that this isn’t a bounty that went south. Travis is on a mission. He captures Micah to find the whereabouts of his criminal father. When Travis and Lucy venture to the nearest town to retrieve their bounty, they are surprised to learn it is run by the man who killed their mother, William Slade (George Nelson). This is also where Travis and Lucy run into their brothers, Brodie (Chade Green) and Pete (Aaron Ginn-Forsberg), who Slade seemingly employs.

The first thing to jump out about Road to Revenge is the cast. Nelson is absolutely menacing as the big bad of the piece. While Garner isn’t flashy in the role of the main bounty hunter, he does bring a subdued stoicism that hammers in the fear and confidence that Travis radiates. Moeller commands the screen as the scheming, iron-willed Lucy. The two actors portray the diverting sibling dynamic well, as Travis is overcome by revenge, while Lucy is simply looking out for her brother.

“…Travis and Lucy venture to the nearest town…it is run by the man who killed their mother…”

Regrettably, Garner doesn’t explore that interpersonal conflict deeply enough. There is dramatic dialogue, but these moments fall short because of the delivery and the amount of time (or the lack thereof) spent exploring the aftermath. For example, when Travis reunites with his brothers, there should have been more scenes diving into their lost time. Instead, a flashback of the day that the Royals’ mother died unfolds, and the impact is lacking on account of stilted child performances and inadequate build-up.

Shot in Arizona’s desert terrain with sprawling landscapes and appealingly quaint, derelict structures courtesy of Sid Kramer’s production design, Road to Revenge has the appearance and feel of a typical Western. Kevin Tye composes intense music that aligns itself with the genre as well. In addition, co-director Sheffield, as the editor and DOP, compiles gorgeous wide shots, clean close-ups, and utilizes natural lighting. The requisite abrupt shootouts and piercing leers between rivals one would expect pop up in several moments. Fortunately, they are done quite effectively, thanks to some solid stuntwork and the breakneck speed in which the gunfire erupts.

The first half is more well-crafted than the second, as things become more self-aware and less serious in tone, which is fine, but the story becomes too half-baked as well. The final gunfight is grand and ridiculous. Garner sets up the perfect Western battleground, but he’s unable to execute the gunfight to a degree that vivifies the stakes.

For an indie Western, Road to Revenge is quite impressive in its depiction of violence and the lawlessness of the Old West. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t pay off in the end, but the journey is still immensely entertaining and proudly old-fashioned.

Road to Revenge (2021)

Directed: Kellen Garner, Christopher Sheffield

Written: Kellen Garner

Starring: Kellen Garner, Alexis Moeller, George Nelson, Aaron Ginn-Forsberg, Chade Green, Jeremy A. Lopez, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Road to Revenge Image

"…immensely entertaining and proudly old-fashioned."

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  1. Robert g Tabb says:

    this is a fantastic movie. and love that it was filmed here in Arizona.

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