Entertainment

The Ravine Review: Eric Dane Murder Mystery Falls Apart In Its Opening Act

Eric Dane in The Ravine

The Ravine is sadly a confusing version of a rather straightforward story. The murder mystery is solid, but it does not get a chance to take hold in a meaningful way. The cast does nothing wrong or right, they are simply bound to the script that seems to serve two masters. The heavily religious aspects of the film make perfect sense given what the characters go through, but also derail the plot in a massive way. By the film’s end, racist undertones drown the barely floating ship, and director Keoni Waxman’s (Absolution) adaptation of Robert and Kelly Pascuzzi book sinks.

When Danny Turner (Peter Facinelli) commits a horrific act of violence against his family, his friends and loved ones can’t believe he had it in him. They all gather as Detective Ben Lee (Byron Mann) lays out the facts. As he asks them about Danny’s past, it’s clear he had a darkness about him that was known to some, but not all. Danny’s friend Mitch (Eric Dane) is left to both grieve and investigate parts of the case that Detective Lee shares with only him. The story is told, piece by piece, from several perspectives and ultimately leads to a revelation about how Mitch deals with the toughest moments in his life.

Teri Polo in The Ravine

Overtly religious movies can be hard to get a handle on. When a film comes out of the gate with a Christian message one knows what the rules are. But when that aspect isn’t introduced in the first act and is held back as a twist, the structure of the film is the only thing keeping the plot from splintering. The Ravine starts off as a straightforward murder mystery. It’s fully dramatic and complete with flashbacks and a well-dressed detective with sharp instincts. Crucially, as the weight of the murder creeps in on the supporting cast, they do not turn to religion. There is a scene where two young men are forgiven for a brutal crime in which the victim chooses God over drugs. This takes place in a flashback that totally works as a backstory for the characters. But when God is the twist, viewers might be confused as to where it fits in what they thought was a murder mystery.

Religion is by no means the sin of The Ravine. The unforgivable aspect of the film is dialogue that refers to the lone Black character’s skin color in a biblical sense. To that end, what is known as the “Magical Negro” trope is in full effect in The Ravine. Leslie Uggams (Deadpool) plays Joanna, a character who literally appears out of nowhere to comfort the white characters. She has the answers to questions they haven’t asked yet and a complete psychological profile of the entire cast. Like many films before it, The Ravine thinks this trope is fair play when the character has a direct spiritual connection in the world of the movie. But like The Green Mile, special effects can’t hide one of Hollywood’s most outdated tropes.

Peter Facinelli in The Ravine

The murder mystery aspect of The Ravine is where the film makes its stand. If the film was less concerned with the guilt and grief of the characters and more about what drove them to this point, the best parts of the production would be highlighted. The opening leaves a fascinating ambiguity that makes one think the film could go in several directions. However, no suspense is built past the first act and the film loses track of the main storyline fairly quickly. When the facts are given and handheld flashbacks show Danny making backroom deals, the movie is a high-octane hallmark thriller. And it has the right cast for just that. Eric Dane is very noticeable after Euphoria and Grey’s Anatomy, while Peter Facinelli is recognizable from the Twilight franchise. The film takes advantage of that… for about three scenes.

There is a very entertaining movie somewhere in The Ravine, but it seems to have been left on the editing room floor. The plot and cast should have made for a twist-filled and flashback-driven movie that worked. Perhaps the sheer scale of the film was its own demise. The best scenes are the principal cast delivering exposition in a living room. Everything else surrounding the film leaves the viewer bored and confused knowing there is still an answer they need at the end of this murder mystery. The bottom line is The Ravine can’t stay in top gear long enough to make one invested in what it has to offer.

The Ravine is in theaters, on digital, and on-demand beginning May 6. The film is 121 minutes long and is rated R for some violence and language.

Our Rating:

1.5 out of 5 (Poor, A Few Good Parts)

Content

The Ravine Review: Eric Dane Murder Mystery Falls Apart In Its Opening Act

Eric Dane in The Ravine

The Ravine is sadly a confusing version of a rather straightforward story. The murder mystery is solid, but it does not get a chance to take hold in a meaningful way. The cast does nothing wrong or right, they are simply bound to the script that seems to serve two masters. The heavily religious aspects of the film make perfect sense given what the characters go through, but also derail the plot in a massive way. By the film’s end, racist undertones drown the barely floating ship, and director Keoni Waxman’s (Absolution) adaptation of Robert and Kelly Pascuzzi book sinks.
When Danny Turner (Peter Facinelli) commits a horrific act of violence against his family, his friends and loved ones can’t believe he had it in him. They all gather as Detective Ben Lee (Byron Mann) lays out the facts. As he asks them about Danny’s past, it’s clear he had a darkness about him that was known to some, but not all. Danny’s friend Mitch (Eric Dane) is left to both grieve and investigate parts of the case that Detective Lee shares with only him. The story is told, piece by piece, from several perspectives and ultimately leads to a revelation about how Mitch deals with the toughest moments in his life.
Teri Polo in The Ravine
Overtly religious movies can be hard to get a handle on. When a film comes out of the gate with a Christian message one knows what the rules are. But when that aspect isn’t introduced in the first act and is held back as a twist, the structure of the film is the only thing keeping the plot from splintering. The Ravine starts off as a straightforward murder mystery. It’s fully dramatic and complete with flashbacks and a well-dressed detective with sharp instincts. Crucially, as the weight of the murder creeps in on the supporting cast, they do not turn to religion. There is a scene where two young men are forgiven for a brutal crime in which the victim chooses God over drugs. This takes place in a flashback that totally works as a backstory for the characters. But when God is the twist, viewers might be confused as to where it fits in what they thought was a murder mystery.
Religion is by no means the sin of The Ravine. The unforgivable aspect of the film is dialogue that refers to the lone Black character’s skin color in a biblical sense. To that end, what is known as the “Magical Negro” trope is in full effect in The Ravine. Leslie Uggams (Deadpool) plays Joanna, a character who literally appears out of nowhere to comfort the white characters. She has the answers to questions they haven’t asked yet and a complete psychological profile of the entire cast. Like many films before it, The Ravine thinks this trope is fair play when the character has a direct spiritual connection in the world of the movie. But like The Green Mile, special effects can’t hide one of Hollywood’s most outdated tropes.
Peter Facinelli in The Ravine
The murder mystery aspect of The Ravine is where the film makes its stand. If the film was less concerned with the guilt and grief of the characters and more about what drove them to this point, the best parts of the production would be highlighted. The opening leaves a fascinating ambiguity that makes one think the film could go in several directions. However, no suspense is built past the first act and the film loses track of the main storyline fairly quickly. When the facts are given and handheld flashbacks show Danny making backroom deals, the movie is a high-octane hallmark thriller. And it has the right cast for just that. Eric Dane is very noticeable after Euphoria and Grey’s Anatomy, while Peter Facinelli is recognizable from the Twilight franchise. The film takes advantage of that… for about three scenes.
There is a very entertaining movie somewhere in The Ravine, but it seems to have been left on the editing room floor. The plot and cast should have made for a twist-filled and flashback-driven movie that worked. Perhaps the sheer scale of the film was its own demise. The best scenes are the principal cast delivering exposition in a living room. Everything else surrounding the film leaves the viewer bored and confused knowing there is still an answer they need at the end of this murder mystery. The bottom line is The Ravine can’t stay in top gear long enough to make one invested in what it has to offer.
The Ravine is in theaters, on digital, and on-demand beginning May 6. The film is 121 minutes long and is rated R for some violence and language.

Our Rating:
1.5 out of 5 (Poor, A Few Good Parts)

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