South of Heaven          review by Bobby Blakey

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Jason Sudeikis has been getting rave reviews for his series Ted Lasso so what better time to see him take on a completely different kind of role in his latest film South of Heaven. The film co-stars Evangeline Lilly, Shea Whigham and Mike Colter with ABCs of Death 2 and Big Bad Wolves director Aharon Keshales at the helm. Can Sudeikis bring the drama and love story or will it caught up in its own deception?

South of Heaven follows convicted felon Jimmy who gets early parole after serving twelve years for armed robbery. Upon his release he vows to give his girlfriend Annie, who is dying of cancer, the best last year of her life. But things are never that simple, and when he is given a “side job” from his parole officer, it sets off a series of events that leaves Jimmy in the crosshairs of a local crime boss. Now, he must stop at nothing to save Annie and fight for whatever time they have left.

 

Every so often a film sneaks in under the radar and surprises you and this is one of those films. It’s far from perfect, but there is a little bit of everything here and most of it works great. There are a couple of stories happening here that are perfectly intertwined with a love story and a revenge situation. They feed off of each other to make a good balanced flick and one that offered up way more than I had expected.

 

The story is initially with Sudeikis’ character acclimating into society and his love story with Lilly. This alone would have made for a great movie with these two together, but the twists and turns throughout leads to a violent ending that was not what I expected from this movie or Sudeikis. He brings a suffering depth to the role as he is trying to find his way back and the sadness he is feeling for his girlfriend’s situation. Despite her own mortality issue, Lilly brings the strength to the duo and you really buy into their situation and relationship.

 

The rest of the cast are good as well with Colter bringing a calm and collected

menace to his villainous role that is different in the kind of characters like this we are used too. His performance is great, but it’s this persona that both helps the film stand out as well as falter. For me it felt too easily resolved initially with the situation that set it up and the direction that was taken to be twisted around so quickly. This sets up where the ending is going, but just felt off for me and worked all at once.

 

The final sequence builds up to the action of it all and I was hoping for some intense and excitement, but instead it is pretty tame. It’s not bad and there is a big body count, but it just doesn’t scream action star with Sudeikis bringing it home. I think that is kind of the point in the film, but for the confidence he has going in I would have thought it looked like someone more experienced. This is strictly a me issue since there is never anything that tries to make him sound more badass and he does it fine, just built more up in my mind I guess.

 

Despite this minor issue for me I still dug this flick a lot more than I had expected too. Decide for yourself and check out South of Heaven available now on Blu-ray and DVD from RLJE Films.