Indie Film Review “Lazarus Rising”

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First, the Recap:

Secrets. We all have them. We often promise to keep them when shared with us. Some are good, some are of ill begotten nature–and some can flat out kill you. Or, in this case, potentially GET you killed.  Enter the life of professional hitman Mike Fitzpatrick (Mike Pfaff), a “clean-up” man for local, mid-level mobster, Dallen (Sal Rendino).  Along with his partner, a more than slightly unhinged “cleaner” herself, Angelica (Megan Nguyen), Mike manages to eke out what might be called a life, carrying out hits on whomever Dallen advises him to. In the midst of this chaotic existence, Mike still has one semblance of “normalcy” in girlfriend Emma (Devon Ogden), while also bearing the genius, drug-addled burden of his brother, Sean (Sean Carmichael).

And so Mike’s barely functional life and “career” struggle forward until something drastic changes the entire scope of his focus–Emma’s name appears on Dallen’s hit list. Shaken by the revelation, Mike’s goals quickly shift to trying to determine why this has happened, much to Emma’s ongoing, tight-lipped reluctance, while also attempting to become her sole protector against a mob enforcer named Mr. Gray (Adoni Maropis), who’s been sent in to deal with the mess.  The dangerous game of cat and mouse ensues, with Sean and Emma in tow, as the three try to utilize any and all means to stay alive while digging for the truth, revealing Emma’s secret, and vying to stop the ultimate plan of a corrupt politician, James Connelly (Eric Roberts). And in it all, there is one more element to find in it all–hope.

Next, my Mind:

One thing that is always important with independent film is when watching them, look beyond the budget and any other immediate factors that you normally apply to Hollywood’s extravagant offerings, and look at what the filmmaker is ultimately aiming to achieve.  Often, you’ll find it is a better effort than you might see on the surface.  Such, overall, is the case with director John Depew’s actioner here. Delivering a gritty, raw, starkly-filmed, in-your-face romp, Depew immerses the viewer fully in a world of unsavory characters, criminality, high-order violence, lies, and betrayal. All in the name of character’s survival! Yet, there is the search for a better life found in its finale.

And what else is one to expect in a film about mobsters, hitmen, and contract assassins? Pfaff pounds through this effort as Mike, almost doling out as much punishment as he takes, with a cold resolve that rarely lightens up, but when it does, you can see there’s a heart and caring side to a killer. Ogden plays Emma in the same overall manner, with a boiling intensity that still shows she can stand up for herself, yet really only desires a much, much quieter and settled future. Maropis once again proves, as his stint in “24”, that he is more than capable of playing a truly devilish villain. Strong supporting turns by Nguyen, Rendino, Carmichael, and Roberts (man, can that guy play slimy well!), plus a brief appearance by C. Thomas Howell, round things out.

Viewers should be warned of the intense levels of violence and language present here, as films of this general theme will expectedly have. While the limits of this reviewer’s personal tolerance for overt amounts of certain content were pushed to the edge, “Lazarus Rising” will most certainly garner the kind of recognition an indie project warrants at Film Festivals and beyond.  It may not be for everyone, but one cannot deny, there is just something about frenetically-paced action that captures you.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!





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