Movie Review: South of Heaven is slightly west of hell  

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The title “South of Heaven” is interesting, in a multifaceted way.

It may imply heaven or earth, assuming Heaven is north. In either case, it turns us all into southerners.

That includes Lucifer too, the fieriest southerner in history.

Anyway, “South of Heaven,” is not only Lucifer’s address; it is also half the title of a 2000 action-adventure movie called “South of Heaven, West of Hell”, with a celebrity-studded cast of Vince Vaughn, Billy Bob Thornton and Bridget Fonda.

“South of Heaven”, though, is a new dramatic thriller starring Jason Sudeikis and Evangeline Lilly.

Sudeikis plays Jimmy, who makes parole and is ejaculated into Annie’s (Evangeline Lilly) lovelorn arms.

However, there will be no happy endings at the start of the movie since Annie’s close-cropped hair is a lingering legacy of her chemotherapy.

Yeah, you’re right, she has cancer.

Please, put away the violins and strap on your seatbelt because Jimmy is in for a rough ride.

All is merry amongst these two country hicks, Jimmy and Annie, until Shea Wigham, Jimmy’s villainous parole officer Schmidt, frames Jimmy into becoming his drug mule.

This, for Sudeikis, seems like a reprise of his character’s machinations in the movie, “We’re the Millers”.

To make matters worse, Jimmy accidentally hits and kills a nobody on a motorbike who happens to be a somebody on a motorbike.

This has far-reaching consequences which, er, are South of Heaven.

Schmidt, in his wide-brimmed cowboy hat, goes beyond the call of duty by making a move on Annie.

Enter Whit Price (Mike Colter).

This is a criminal so smooth that he could play a schizophrenic James Bond.

We are not sure of the nature of his criminality, but it doesn’t matter. This smooth criminal has got that cut-glass sharpness of dialogue and charisma which make him thoroughly appealing.

An intelligent hoodlum, Price is cultured and so polite so he would never use the words “kill him” when “don’t forget to take out the trash” is more serviceable.

And we see that he reads the Wall Street Journal, but we also see that he is ruthless.

The way he cuts Schmidt’s throat belongs to a scene in a slasher movie. All the while, he keeps his composure with a menacing calm.

Anyway, it turns out that the nobody Jimmy hit and killed with his car was ferrying Mr. Price’s five hundred grand.

So he holds Annie hostage, in hopes that Jimmy ponies up the dough.

Yeah: bad idea.

Jimmy, who doesn’t have the money, kidnaps Price’s insufferable son Tommy (Thaddeus J. Mixson).

This kid, born with a silver spoon up his ass, is a junior mafia to his dad’s seniority in criminality.

In terms of suavity, however, the apple falls so far from the tree that you wonder if it’s some other fruit since this kid’s appeal goes pear-shaped from scene to scene.

After Jimmy kidnaps his son, Price lose his characteristic cool and this makes him vulnerable in the way Pablo Escobar’s son’s capture was fatally used against him in real life.

His son’s kidnapping humanizes Price, adding dimension to his personality adding even more layers to it by his bonding with his hostage, Annie.

Their conversation is touching, almost fertile ground for Stockholm syndrome. But Annie, who is the healthiest looking cancer patient I have ever seen, only has eyes for hapless Jimmy.

When Price and Jimmy trade their respective hostages, Annie and Jimmy seem free to jump the proverbial broom and scream “free at last!”

But, hey, not so fast: something happened to Price’s son…

“South of Heaven” is a film which requires your patience and understanding that anything south of your patience and understanding would further bury this movie in the shallow, unmarked cinematic grave where it belongs.

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