Previous Post
Next Post

Released in select theaters nation-wide today, then on digital platforms on January 21st, Flinch captures a few exciting days in the life of a gun range employee who’s also a professional hitman. Professional, that is, until he “catches feelings” for a girl who witnesses his most recent hit.

 

Joe Doyle (Daniel Zovatto) is a 30-something shooting range employee who lives with his quarrelsome mom, played by Academy Award nominee Cathy Moriarty. Joe’s father, Joseph (Steven Bauer), is in prison, apparently due to getting caught for committing a murder-for-hire of his own. Working off his father’s debt — presumably incurred from whatever failed incident put him in prison — to a father and son gangster operation, Joe assassinates a city council member.

Unfortunately, this hit is witnessed by the man’s assistant, Mia (Tilda Cobham-Hervey). Unable to terminate this loose end, Joe brings Mia home and his situation spirals out of control.

Opening up the trunk of his car in a remote area and aiming his Beretta 92 at Mia, Joe intends to kill the only witness to his earlier hit, but he just can’t do it. You see, Mia didn’t flinch.

“The girl who didn’t flinch” is the central tenet of the movie, effectively. It’s some sort of belief of Joe’s father that a person who doesn’t flinch when faced with the business end of a hitman’s gun is either absolutely pure or “certainly not innocent.”

At any rate, for apparently no other reason than the fairly absurd flinchy thing, Joe balks at figuratively tying up this loose end and, instead, literally ties her up at home while figuring out what he’s going to do.

Joe’s mom is adamantly against having a prisoner in the house, but not for the reasons you might think: she wants the witness dead and even prepares to do it herself. But it turns out Mia is cute as well as smart, a bit sassy, and fairly resourceful and both Joe and his mom warm up to her.

For some reason Mia also falls for Joe. Then their situation suddenly degrades, and the lovebirds are fighting for their lives. But with a twist.

Flinch isn’t John Wick. Firearm handling and use in the movie is amateurish, including basic safety and handling at the gun range when Joe assists a customer in clearing a jammed pistol. For a professional hitman (not to mention a range employee), Joe doesn’t pass on-screen muster of having even mild-to-moderate proficiency with a handgun.

That said, it isn’t so bad — his handling or anyone else’s — that it detracted from the movie for me. Much. The scene inside the shooting range was painful to watch. It earned a hard cringe and I opened my mouth to complain to the wife, but stopped myself (she doesn’t want to hear it).

The gun fights, however, were fine. Less realism than some Hollywood output, but they were generally exciting and filmed well.

Though not a gun fight, as it turned out, the bloody fight to the death between Joe and the city council member was a surprise. It helped set the tone for a grittier movie than I had anticipated going in, and it made it clear that Joe is either fairly new to the hitman game or not particularly good at it, though the rest of Flinch wants the viewer to believe otherwise.

Flinch is a little bit film noir, a little bit retro, a little bit formulaic.

With the exception of the plot twist, which we were waiting for (it felt mandatory, though we didn’t anticipate its exact form and it certainly did improve the movie), Flinch progressed exactly as you’d expect, but with a louder and much stranger soundtrack that I’m guessing the studio thinks is really cool, but mostly reminded me of the royalty-free music I have to use for my crappy YouTube channel.

No offense, Synthwave fans.

Perhaps my biggest complaint is that too little time was spent making the viewer care about the lead character, Joe. Little development and less personality made for a flat character, and nobody in my little viewing group really cared much one way or the other about him. Or about any other characters, for that matter, with the exception of Mia who was both an innocent victim and quite easy to like.

Perhaps ten minutes of background story showing what happened to Joe’s dad and how it affected Joe, how he got into or was forced into the hitman trade, why he’s indebted to the gangster family and what sort of burden this is/has been to him and his mom, the story behind his employment at a shooting range, etc., would have helped. Regardless, Joe’s character really needed to be fleshed out.

Ultimately, Flinch is a character movie, not an action film, and failing to more deeply develop the characters was a mistake.

Furthermore, the pivotal premise of the movie — the entire “flinch” thing for which the movie is titled — is as silly as it is undeveloped. Do we know how or why Joseph came to this philosophy (assuming he did; perhaps it was passed down for many generations of Doyles), or why Joe feels he should take this sort of canonical advice from his imprisoned father?

No. No we don’t. It’s just a deeply held belief of the Doyle clan, but considering how strange, random and non-intuitive it is, Flinch fails to make it a belief of the viewer.

Flinch is a good enough, interesting enough, exciting enough movie that we were glad to have watched it. If we had paid to watch it in a theater we would have been disappointed. Having streamed it at home, it was a movie night spent just fine.

From a TTAG perspective I had hoped for more gun guy stuff — more shooting range training time, some impressive gun handling, at least a few interesting firearms — but guns are just a work tool for Joe, of no other interest to him or the movie. On the other hand, a couple of the action sequences were engaging and filmed well, and the pace of Flinch was solid.

When Flinch hits streaming, whether free on some service you subscribe to or available for rent at a fair price (it should be on Prime Video on the 21st), I’d recommend watching it. But I wouldn’t put it at the top of your list.

Ratings (out of five stars):

Overall  * * 
Add Flinch to your watch list, but slot it somewhere near the middle.

 

Previous Post
Next Post

31 COMMENTS

    • “excuse me sir, you need to wear a mask when entering”

      “No thanks” keeps walking…

      Target number one, movie begins. Would be a smash hit with the lefties who like the purge and that other dumbass movie with elitists hunting humans.

    • You know how I’m sure this movie is fiction?

      The still photo shown at the top of the page shows an entire wall filled with available guns, instead of only one or two. 😉

  1. Maybe on my list at some point.
    I’m currently working my way through “The Lost Kingdom”, no guns but a seriously number of battles and mayhem. Someone dies in almost every episode but it is a great escape while I’m riding my bike trainer in the world of Zwift. So I get two fantasy’s at the same time. Swords, bows, axes and stuff. Try it. Available on Netflix.

    • Thumbs up on Last Kingdom. If’n one wishes to be persnicketty we could say Saxon soliders weren’t often geared in full chain mail in those days, and the helmets are more Norman cavalry than summoned-up farm folk wear.

      But characters are usually well-developed, even the bad guys and girls have some attractive character twists, and it isn’t a bad quick summary of Alfred and heirs battling the Nordic invaders for the future of the big island. Which some guy named William took care of later…

      Much better than ‘Vikings’.

      • The Last Kingdom is objectively awesome. The books are even better. Vikings just never really grabbed me for some reason; probably because it wasn’t a series of kickass historical fiction novels first.

        • Mrs. Haz and I watched the pilot episode of Vikings as it first aired years ago, back when The History Channel had nothing of the sort and was still famous for airing colorized WWII documentaries. I thought this show would be somewhat documentary-ish. It wasn’t, and we were hooked from the get-go.

          Same with The Last Kingdom. Watched the pilot, loved the show. Very different flavor, with the setting being about 200 years after Vikings, and with a smaller budget.

          That said, I believe Vikings has had a great run, and appropriately ended.

  2. I may watch it eventually…both son’s have movie & TV review blogs. Just watched WandaVision. Snoozefest…

    • Allow Wandavision to build. The first two episodes are intended to be campy, to show the dreamlike world Wanda’s mind is in. The critics who were allowed to review the first three episodes unanimously said they liked the progression of the introduction of darker elements by the third episode, so we’ll see next week when it airs for the rest of us.

      Remember…Wandavision is meant to be a precursor for Doctor Strange 2: Multiverse of Madness, which is touted to have very dark threads by MCU standards. Wanda will have a major role, and Wandavision reportedly will show how her mind eventually “snaps”, resulting in the Multiverse.

      Did you notice the small references to S.W.O.R.D. in the background? It’s the Phase 4 replacement of S.H.I.E.L.D. The theory is that Wanda is in a coma, living out her life in her dream world, and S.W.O.R.D. is trying to reach her…

  3. Hmm. We have enough with perceptions since Arnie’s movie Commando where gun dealers have a room of military grade full-auto weapons and rocket launchers. And the belief that gun dealers will sell guns “under the table no questions asked”. Now the staff are being portrayed as murderers. Classic culture war.

  4. Looks good and I will throw this on the list but currently I am rewatching Deadwood. Been 7-8 years and I find it just as good the second time although the movie HBO did a couple years back was disappointing. My cursing has drastically improved recently 😀.

  5. “a 30-something shooting range employee who lives with his quarrelsome mom“

    Are you people for real?

    This movie is probably one of the most effective yet subtle indictments of the tacticool military drag Incel culture that has been produced by Hollywood.

    Y’all may identify with this failed man, because in so many ways he mirrors your values and achievements.

    Today, I choose to honor Eugene Goodman, 101st airborne veteran, with a year in Iraq and a CIB.

    Eugene isn’t spending his time in his mother’s basement, he’s on the front lines fighting for America, honoring his oath to protect America from domestic enemies.

    At a time when President Benedict Donald is awarding the medal of freedom to professional golfers, I think Eugene is much more deserving but we all know what president Benedict Donald’s first priority is… Golf.

    In other news, Nero fiddles while Rome burns.

    • Miner, why does watching a movie make you identify with it? I love watching movies when I have time, and just because I watched Lord of he Rings doesn’t mean I identify as a Hobbit. LOL. I watched and enjoyed Uncle Frank and still don’t identify as a gay man from the 70s. I watched and really liked Hidden Figures and do not identify as a black female mathematician.

      Movies=Entertainment

      • Movies=Glorification of characters, who enter the national consciousness and provide justification/role models for those seeking guidance.

        More Gary Cooper, less Rambo.

        Moore Jimmy Stewart, less John Wick.

        • John Rambo stood up to police brutality. He was unfairly targeted due to the way he looked, not the content of his character. They drew first blood, not him.

  6. Cant wait to put on my mask, pay 15 bucks for a ticket, and 20 for a small soda and popcorn, and sit in a sticky seat with loud talking weirdos all around me to see this epic gun movee!

    So much better than watching “The Killer (1989)” on DVD!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here