War Path is a low-budget indie mob and organized crime story and comes with all the inherent weaknesses in acting, action, and violence. The drama comes from Joel’s sudden realization that he has more at stake and the possibility of a better life by leaving the mob. The conflict comes as his attempt at surviving comes with a high price tag as Frank and Eric go after Joel’s friends and wife. The emotional heart of the story is Joel. Gary Nohealii plays his role of the sympathetic hitman well. The actor plays the newly torn loyalty of Joel and his willingness to self-sacrifice with confidence, allowing the audience to understand Joel’s change of heart.
The weakness of the movie is a common one among low-budget independent films in that it doesn’t transcend the genre. I’m looking for an indie that attempts to rise above a very crowded pack, or better yet, one that takes on anything the big studios are producing. War Path tells a good story with good performances, but many of the story beats, themes, and twists are very familiar.
“…a good story with good performances...”
From a distance, the film is essentially a job gone wrong. It’s simple, and all the players involved shift right into survival mode. I believe War Path needed to focus solely on the hero’s journey of Joel. He required a quest for himself beyond that one last job. Centering the narrative on this would build endless amounts of sympathy for the character, and gives us, the audience, a sense of direction for our hero right off the bat. Creating the right level of sympathy for a character elevates every other element at play.
Yes, I’m playing the armchair quarterback, making calls after the fact. War Path is a good film with potential. The story offers relatively few surprises, and its ending is none too shocking. But Casey de Fremery does a lot with his budget and resources, and the movie is worth a watch for any fan of independent filmmaking.
"…the film is essentially a chess game."