November 7th, 2017



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Release Year: 2017

Rating: 7.7/10 ( voted)

Critic's Score: /100

Director: Jordan Ross

Stars: Eliza Taylor, Pablo Schreiber, Lena Headey

Teens in a low income neighborhood are lured into working for a violent and dangerous drug dealer. When a new girl harboring a dark secret arrives in town, their relationship jeopardizes everything.

Eliza Taylor - Kat Carter
Pablo Schreiber - Wyatt Rivers
Lena Headey - Ellen
Ben Feldman - Jimmy
Daniel Webber - Beaver
Philip Harville - High School Student
Jazzy De Lisser - Gina
Brigitte Kali Canales - Rhonda (as Brigitte Kali)
Grant Harvey - Troy
Allius Barnes - Flip
Britain Dalton - Dean
Nick Alvarez - Freshman Boy
Brett Rice - Mr. Carter
Alexandra Manea - Layla
JoAnna Rhambo - Mrs. Flynn

Country: USA

Language: English

Release Date: 3 Jan 2017

Technical Specs



User Review


Rating: 9/10

There are several things that "Thumper" does remarkably well, and that's saying a lot—in the past decade or so, films (and, indeed, television shows) on drugs, drug use, and the war on drugs, have steadily become more staple, enough to establish their own set of tropes and pitfalls. But "Thumper" does enough to both validate and subvert expectations, by allowing organic character beats to drive the plot, and intimate human relationships to steer us into unfamiliar territory.

The film's leads—Pablo Schreiber as menacing meth cook Wyatt, Eliza Taylor as shrewd undercover cop Kat—hurl themselves (occasionally, quite literally) into their complex roles with ferocious commitment. From the opening scene, Schreiber brings a furious volcanic intensity into the frame, threatening to explode in a wave of fire and ash. Taylor adeptly matches his performance with what she's given, brazenly going toe-to-toe with him—a notable feat, considering he towers an entire foot over her—and talking back when others fall silent.

But it is Daniel Webber's vulnerable, downplayed Beaver—his arc mirrors Kat's in a number of ways, one of the reasons they are drawn to one another—whose agency and actions becomes crucial. And it is Beaver's relationship with Wyatt—in all its sad shades of fear, respect, anger, humiliation, and the need for validation—that changes everyone's lives, for better or worse.

Other gritty performances include Grant Harvey as Wyatt's cousin, Troy, who brings to mind a mild, not-so-far-gone Sick Boy, Jazzy De Lisser's hard-boiled addict Gina, and Lena Headey's overbearing, sneering Ellen. It goes without saying that "Thumper" owes much of its praise to its cast—although there is noticeable unevenness with the writing, particularly for the female roles.

Despite that unevenness, by the conclusion of the film, we are left with Kat, forced by her ordeal to take a hard look at who she is, and how what she has done has changed her. For a film that initially gives the impression of a creeping cynicism bordering on overwhelming pessimism, Kat's recognition of the drug war for the vicious, violent cycle it is, and her firm decision to break away from it, speaks volumes. Taylor's remarkable performance confirms her ability to bring to life characters with evolving moralities—I hope she continues to explore similarly challenging roles in other independent efforts, which may wisely recognize, and make the most of, her talent.

The film's dedication to naturalism makes apparent director-writer Jordan Ross's roots in documentary filmmaking, with the entire film shot with a hand-held camera, setting the film's uncompromising tone. Effective films often affect emotionally and physically, and "Thumper" is one such film, evoking an undeniably visceral reaction, even on my second (and frankly, far more critical) viewing. It doesn't matter if you suspect, through the film's occasional familiar beats, or muted foreshadowing—or certainly know, as I did that second time—what comes next; how the film takes you there will leave you momentarily breathless, at times, shaken, and by the end, entirely struck.


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