Starring: Neal McDonough, Steven R. McQueen, Casper Van Dien
Director: Brent Christy
Running Time: 84 mins
The Warrant is an American film about a sheriff who reunites with his son in the post-Civil War South to take down a former fellow Union soldier who threatens peace in a nation only just recovering from the scars of conflict.
Though it does well to ground you in the era of post-Civil War America, The Warrant is an otherwise frustratingly underwhelming watch. With performances that don’t set the screen alight, as well as clunky editing and a disappointing score, the film can’t quite match its strong production values with real depth throughout.
So, The Warrant does grab your attention early on. It’s action-packed from the start, and for the first half at least, it does a good job of balancing battle sequences with slower, more intimate dialogue scenes.
The problem, however, is that the pacing of those scenes is incredibly frustrating – far too slow to really foster an atmosphere of intensity either in battle or on an emotional level.
The film’s inability to hit home on a deeper level is further compounded by central themes that don’t really offer the eye-opening insight the film is aiming for.
Indeed, the themes of brotherhood, loyalty and fairness are inspiring, but The Warrant does little to consider more about the wider social climate of the US in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, and the underlying tensions that still run high just four years after the end of the conflict.
The background to the Sheriff’s journey to bring down a former fellow soldier of his is related to the history of the Civil War, but it plays out for the most part as a far more personal, individual story, failing to capture the passion and emotional intensity that ran deep as a result of split allegiances and strong feelings at the time.
What’s more is that the film frustratingly devolves into a one-track action flick in the second half. Its balance between action and dialogue is good for the first forty minutes, but the next forty are almost entirely action-centred, and not run at a pace that would make the film an intense and exhilarating watch.
It’s frustrating to see, because of how The Warrant starts, but in tandem with clunky editing that sees an overuse of time jumps and intrusive (and excessively detailed) title cards, as well as a musical score that feels far too suited to terrestrial viewing than anything more majestic, this film is ultimately a disappointment, and that’s why I’m giving it 6.1 overall.