Release Year: 2008
Starring: Val Kilmer, Stephen Dorff, Harold Perrineau, Samuel Shepard Rogers, Marisol Nichols
Directed by: Ric Roman Waugh
Written by: Ric Roman Waugh
IMDB: 7.9 (7,851 votes)
RT: 59% (17 reviews)
Metacritic: 58 (10 reviews)

Felon tells the story of Wade Porter, who got put behind bars because he unintentionally killed a burglar who broke into his house. Unable to pay for bail, he got no choice but to be put in the prison for 3 years. Inside the prison, he was later joined by a mass murderer John Smith (as if there were no other names for this character!). The two eventually became close and in the end must work together to put up a fight against the chief warden (Lt. Jackson) who used to beat up and torture the prisoners.

The story of this movie is rather similar to the Shawshank Redemption, but with quality way below by huge margin. At the very beginning of the movie when Wade was convicted, I’ve already felt that this movie was forcing its way to put Wade in the prison, whatever it takes. I couldn’t believe that self-defense would be easily transformed into involuntary murder charge. The trial was also rushed, adding the obvious effort to progress the plot despite that trials for such case could be longer than that. Another thing was about Wade being put in the prison, he was actually able to avoid that had he got a million dollars to pay the bail. Well, he could’ve tried to find loans somewhere. Him being put into a maximum security prison was also somewhat exaggerated. I thought maximum security prisons are for the most dangerous criminals only, so what on earth a sorry bloke who just put up a self-defense and being unable to pay the bail, be put into such prison? In essense, the plot was evidently trying to push everything through even if it would trample logic. Another annoying thing was about Wade’s wife. The fact that Laura asked to be explained about things that Wade did in the prison was somewhat ridiculous. I believe anyone would know how things like in the prison, not to mention maximum security prison. Why would even she got upset when Wade didn’t answer that. Did she want to Wade to explain things for hours during the very short visiting hour? That was just ridiculous. She seemed to be intended to be an empathic character, so she should have acted like one. The ending was somewhat predictable, like other prison stories. I won’t disclose it here. You just have to watch it yourself, but one thing for sure, the building block of the plot was shaky from the very beginning, and that was the weakness of this movie.

Acting was just so so. I would no expect too much acting quality from this kind of movie. Despite its nature, the movie didn’t actually offer a lot of action. No shootouts, but there were some muscle actions. Overall, it was a rather timid action movie. Val Kilmer’s acting was somewhat limited by his character, so nothing so special about him here (I still think his play as Doc Holliday was the best that I’ve ever seen). The rest of the cast were also delivering just an average performance.

Overall, I didn’t really able to enjoy this movie due to its shaky plot and a so-so acting. It seemed to be trying to blend drama and action together, but with bigger portion on the drama side. Despite that there was a chance to focus on the John Smith’s story, it opted to focus on the Wade Porter’s. I think John’s story was a lot more interesting and should have been the main storyline. It would give Val to conjure up some great performance which in turn could help this movie a lot. Well, the fact was that that never happened. So, for the score, I give it a 3.0.
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