Flinch (2021): a gangster movie reminiscent of Drive
Our protagonist in the 2021 crime film Flinch is the most common hitman to see on film: not cruel, but with a heart of gold. His name is Joe Doyle, and he’s played by Daniel Zovatto (Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, Lady Bird). Given that he’s a young man living at home with his mother (Cathy Moriarty of Casper & Raging Bull fame) it’s no surprise he ends up falling for the attractive witness to his latest crime (Australian actress Tilda Cabham-Hervey). Of course that doesn’t sit well with his employers.
Flinch is the directorial debut of Cameron Van Hoy, and conceived as a love letter to crime movies from the 80s and 90s. At the same time it’s an ode to LA at night, and the synthwave music that couples so well with it. If that reminds you of Nicolas Winding Refn’s modern classic Drive, then rest assured you are not alone.
To be fair, it’s to be expected that two films offering homage to the same era will share some aesthetics and clichés. Although Drive is the superior film, it’s not very fair to compare Flinch to it given the film’s very limited budget. Credit where credit’s due: Flinch manages to exceed its limitations in various ways. The supporting cast might be most familiar to the average viewer and do a fine job, but it’s the two leads who stand out the most. Both Zovatto and Cabham-Hervey are more than capable leads, and manage to sell us on their characters.
Although the story itself (hitman betrays bosses over a woman) will be familiar to most who have seen a crime film before, Van Hoy (who also wrote the script) does manage to add some surprises to the mix in the third act.
Despite that: as the bodies pile up, the story does unfortunately get more and more familiar. In the end Flinch’s reach may exceed its grasp, but it’s also never dull. This is a solid debut and we’re looking forward to see what’s up next for Van Hoy, Zovatto and Cabham-Hervey.
You can find the trailer for Flinch here: