By Mark Bell | February 15, 2012

Shane (Michael Madison) is a vet home after war. Living with his mother (Alana Stewart), he finds his accolades and reputation from his years of service have made him perfect for a job as a courier for Sarkis (Ludwig Manukian), a businessman of questionable legality. At first, Shane demurs at the idea of working as a courier, especially if he has to carry a gun, but the financial hardship endured by himself and his mother makes him reconsider.

As a courier for Sarkis, Shane just meets random people and exchanges various packages, for the most part ignorant of what he’s carrying. And financially, everything is looking up though, of course, it can’t last. Despite his recent hero turn after saving Cindy (Jeanette Steiner) from a sexual assault, a move that causes her to join him as his new travel companion, Shane is punished by his occupational choices when an exchange goes violently awry and Shane finds himself in the middle of an increasingly tight web of complexity involving drugs, art smuggling and just the right amount of revenge and double-crosses.

Delivered covers a lot of ground, not all of which is the most original. You definitely get the feel, as the film rolls along, that True Romance may have been one of the filmmaker’s favorite films, while it also shares some visual synchronicity with Memento. This is not necessarily a bad thing, nor may it be accurate, but those are influences that seemed most to apply to me.

Now, when it comes to indie films, you can tell when the look of a film is more a product of quality equipment than a capable director of photography, and while something that looks good deserves credit for looking good regardless of which is more prevalent, it’s so much more satisfying when the two work together. And that’s what we have with Delivered; it’s a film that looks gorgeous, not just because the equipment used to film the movie is capable of gorgeous imagery, but because that equipment was in extremely capable hands that more than did it justice. No matter what I may say from here on out about the quality of the film, know that, picture-wise, it looks incredible.

Now, this isn’t a bad film but it also is not the greatest. The editing, at least in the early stages of the film, suffers from some abrupt cuts and music cues that are just jarring enough to notice (though this settles down for the final 2/3rds of the film). Additionally, the overall acting performance level seems to ebb and flow depending on the scenes; sometimes you marvel at how good the performances are, and other times you’re surprised at how “off” they suddenly seem. That said, Chic Daniel as Jack, Shane’s former commanding officer, Ludwig Manukian’s Sarkis and Jeanette Steiner’s Cindy specifically are the most consistent throughout, which is to say that they set a high performance bar and spend the majority of the film keeping to that level. When they’re involved, scenes just flow that much better.

The lead, who also happens to be the director of the film, Michael Madison, suffers the most from the travails of uneven performance, unfortunately. Maybe it’s because the film goes so many different places, and he’s predominantly onscreen being our emotional guide through the experience, that his acting has such an effect, one way or the other. At times he’s spot-on, seemingly with just the right amount of charisma and strength necessary for the film’s later turns, and yet other times you wonder how this guy got himself involved with any of it, because he’s suddenly not the sharpest tool in the shed, nor is seemingly the most capable. Again, though, you never get a consistent grip on that, and while I understand that sometimes that ambiguity is built into a character, in this case it seemed more a side effect of the portrayal than a planned complexity.

Again, Delivered is not a bad film. It is a gorgeous film. It is also an uneven film, delivering as much on the promise of its potential as it doesn’t. Still, I’d rather have a film that hits a few peaks and valleys than one that languishes entirely in the mediocre middle. Not every swing gets a hit, but when it does connect, it’s for extra bases.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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