Written and directed by Michael Schilf, Jack Cross, an extorted Mafia enforcer, must partner with the femme fatale hired gun who murdered his wife in order to save his daughter and liberate himself from his employer, a sadistic L.A. crime boss. Starring: Jesse C. Boyd, Danny Trejo, Veronica Diaz Carranza and Vincent van Hinte.
One of the first impressive things that this film does is encapsulate the L.A. crime feel in its opening and does so while feeling genuine, it doesn’t fall into the trap of trying to emulate others or trying too hard. The second is that it simultaneously manages to keep a down to earth air to its style, which is not an easy thing to achieve with this type of story but Schilf’s style creates a great balance of confidence and a gritty charisma. His choice of shots are varied and stylish, trying out different angles to emphasise its point and added to very strong editing, it’s a satisfying visual to watch unfold.
Part of its confidence comes from the performance of Jesse C. Boyd as Jack, he brings a certain stalwart, smart and strong presence. Whereas many roles such as this can feel over simplified, he brings a layered persona, capable of emotion and showing how he struggles with the darker parts of his tasks. It’s the sort of character you wish others were like in a lot of crime films, he succeeds as a rounded personality where so many others have failed. There’s a strong supporting cast at work here too, it’s always a pleasure to see an appearance from Danny Trejo, he’s just a delightful actor to watch. Veronica Diaz Carranza is a surprising presence as Camila, her brief appearance has a great deal to add to the story and she brings a beguiling wit.
The story moves at a good pace, it doesn’t reveal itself too quickly and it’s not as transparent as you might expect for a crime story. It’s hard to reinvent the wheel with this genre, a lot of aspects aren’t necessarily going to be a shock so it becomes about how you present them, not what they are, which is something Schilf does well. It has an edge of the ominous in the beginning which may move into the background as time goes on but nevertheless it lingers until the end. There’s a quality to the way the story moves that, like its other elements, is confident, there’s a natural and charming air to the progression of the story. It doesn’t become overly slick or dark, even while it plays with those aspects, which you could perhaps compare with something like Drive, a strong focus on its lead who has a generous side but is also capable of terrible things.
The Fixer has a surprising, strong charisma, its style and performances feel confident and well-rounded. It dips its toes far enough into violence to have that edge of darkness without being gratuitous. Boyd leads the charge with a charming intelligence and layered presence while Trejo and Carranza provide solid back-up. Every element works in harmony with one another to create something entertaining that leaves you wanting more.