Disturbing the Peace is a small-time movie about a small-time town. This is the kind of town that has one bank, one diner, one gas station, and the same family owns all three. It’s the kind of town that would protest the building of McDonalds because it would hurt the business of the diner, yet the town fails to realize the kind of jobs it would offer for the town that might have 100 people in it. Disturbing the Peace as a movie, is pretty simple in its approach and has some flaws, but it’s an earnest film with a great lead performance.
The small town in question goes by Horse Cave. In this small town there is tiny police station that is run by Marshal Jim Dillon (Guy Peace), a former Texas Ranger who hasn’t picked up a gun since a tragic accident years ago. When a motorcycle gang, led by a man named Diablo (Devon Sawa) invades the town in search of a big score, Dillon battles with his decision to give up the gun and must use his wits to save the town.
Disturbing the Peace proves how great of an actor Guy Pearce is. Pearce, an actor of incredible range that can do anything from comedies to twisted thrillers to Oscar-caliber dramas, gives an excellent performance as Dillon. What Pearce does best is show us a man who is good at his job, yet dealing with the guilt of the past. The town knows they are save with Dillon even without a gun and we watch how crafty he must get to defeat this biker gang. Dillon’s story is reminiscent of the Clint Eastwood classic, Unforgiven, as we watch a tortured man struggle do decide if he should pick up the gun again. Pearce even gets an awesome hero-shot towards the end of the film as he sits atop a horse as it gallops to action. Pearce carries this movie.
Unfortunately, the rest of the film isn’t as good as Peace’s performance. Director York Alec Shackleton has a lot of growing up to do as a director. Writer Chuck Hustmyre’s script doesn’t do him any favors, though, as the cliché characters never amount to anything and there are some silly moments, like a random diner fight at the beginning of the film. The editing in the film is very sloppy and felt like a freshman film student was doing it. If Shackleton took his time and made sure some of the shots made sense together, didn’t lean so much on dutch angles, and attempted to develop some other characters, this could have been a fun neo-Western. Some the action is cool, but this is a movie that could have been far more exciting with a more experienced director at the helm.
Disturbing the Peace features a pro performance by Guy Pearce, yet nothing else in the movie compares. Due to poor direction, a weak screenplay, and bad editing, Disturbing the Peace fails to reach the heights of a great neo-Western.
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