Short Film Review “Dropkick”



First, the Recap:

The Cold War. It’s an era relevant to our history as well as a time many would prefer to regret. Filled with high tension between the world’s two primary superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, spying, espionage, and the ever-present threat of nuclear war hung in the balance, with both sides relying on leaders they hoped to trust. In one scenario we find the U.S. leader, President Keates (Nigel Barber), calling together two other people to join him in the Presidential bunker–his wife/First Lady (Pippa Winslow) and Special Agent Haines (Max Cavenham).

Initially unwilling to divulge the reasoning behind sequestering the trio in a bunker normally reserved for times of war, the First Lady’s insistence in knowing what exactly is transpiring finally gets its due after Keates receives an unnerving phone call from the Pentagon. Advising about a circumstance involving intelligence information received about an imminent Russian attack against the U.S., Keates had in turn initiated the country’s answer to the threat, known as Dropkick, hoping it would end hostilities. However, when the real truth behind it all comes out, it calls into question exactly whose agenda is being followed.

Next, my Mind:

For director/co-writer/co-producer Luke Shelley, history (past, with a timely, mildly satirical poke at the present mixed in) and classic Hollywood-style fare is where this 10-minute short film effort finds its themes and overall presentation, doing so with uncomplicated execution, straightforward, smoothly shot cinematography, and a single-setting arrangement that accentuates the shady mood of the narrative. Delivering a glimpse of the type of situation we would never want to be in as a country, much less adding in the shocking culmination of events that it does, it certainly heralds back to the paranoia and targeted propaganda of the Cold War age while also taking a mild stab, perhaps, at the overall demeanor and attitude of a particular, recently elected official so many want to vilify? Hmmmm.

Barber’s Keates really is, for all intents and purposes, very much like our current President–overtly confident to the point of arrogance, assured of every action he’s taken being in the best interest of the country, all while showing concern for the citizenry, yet willing to potentially sacrifice some for the greater good, even if not in the same form as here. Watching Barber navigate the not-so-subtle nuances of Keates’ character is both entertaining and truly frightening, to the credit of the veteran actor. Winslow’s performance as the First Lady is equally engaging, though intentionally understated so as to allow for the build up in circumstances to drive her character forward with a sense of believable conviction as she desperately attempts to ascertain what is occurring, balking when finding it out, and then dealing with the aftermath to come. Winslow’s mild manner and focused intensity simmers here to great effect.

Support is provided by Cavenham as the by-the-book Agent Haines, a man sworn to obey the orders of one man and protect that same individual at all costs, even to the point of being unable to advise the First Lady about what plan is being encountered until things have gone past the point of no return. Yet, seeing Haines’ inner conflict emerge is a smartly played point here, well enacted by Cavenham. In total, “Dropkick” should be seen as the accessible short film effort that it is, both enjoyable and compelling in its message that, again, carries the relevancy of both yesteryear and contemporary times.

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



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