In “South of Heaven,” a Texas melodrama that’s as convincing as a taxidermied jackalope, Jason Sudeikis performs Jimmy Ray, a freshly paroled felon with a rootin’-tootin’ case of dangerous luck. His childhood sweetheart (Evangeline Lilly) is dying of a pressure of most cancers that’s beatified her right into a smiling, glowing ever-patient saint. But, the couple’s 12-year engagement is additional delayed by a sequence of creeps and coincidences that can pressure Sudeikis’s cornball financial institution robber to brandish an electrical drill and, ultimately, a gun. Can’t a very good man get a honeymoon?
Aharon Keshales, who directed the movie and wrote it alongside Kai Mark and Navot Papushado, aspires to say one thing about misunderstood antiheroes and the futility of escalating vengeance. (His and Papushado’s earlier thriller, “Large Dangerous Wolves,” had actual chunk.) Right here, nonetheless, the execution is directly laconic and nonsensical. There’s not only one automotive crash ex-Machina — there’s two.
Maybe the script might have been half-salvaged if it steered into the sort of steroidal masculine rampage which may star Liam Neeson. However in model and tone, “South of Heaven” asks to be taken earnestly, a flaw magnified by Sudeikis’s aw-shucks efficiency, all twitchy, tiny smiles that demand the viewers’s love at the same time as Jimmy makes one ludicrous selection after one other. At one level, his character’s predicament is symbolized by a claw machine clenching a teddy bear.
There are a number of technical shiny spots. Whereas principally tasked to shoot in tasteful monochrome, the cinematographer Matt Mitchell does pull off a nifty monitoring shot of a house invasion, and the composer David Fleming places down the acoustic guitar to attain Jimmy’s job at a loading dock with a rattling of frisky percussion. That scene is supposed to evoke monotony, nevertheless it has extra zip than all the whizzing bullets to come back.