Brittney (Emily Shuel) has been left traumatised after her mother (Angela DiMarco) is murdered by local Seattle gangster known as Mr. Big (Raz Mallard). She works with the police to get him arrested for murder, however the trial may be foiled by Mr. Big’s amoral attorney Geno (Sandra Scragg), who plans to frame Brittney and her friends. What can Brittney do to keep her friends safe and make sure Mr. Big stays locked up?
Big Trouble in Seattle is a lean an generally pacey crime thriller. The stakes are nailed down quick, the plot never really slows down and it sets the scale on the personal and broader level really clearly. It makes up for any budgetary limitations with a weighty tone and aesthetic, feeling murky and grim, while allowing itself the hyperreality any crime thriller of its ilk enjoys.
The cast certainly help here. While Emily Shuel and her friends keep it more grounded, the villains give really scene stealing performances. Sandra Scragg is deliciously hammy here, really having fun with the role until later plot turns need her to tone it down. Raz Mallard gives a really dynamic energy to the main baddie. He’s effortlessly slimy and enjoys every minute he’s on the camera. Shout out to Tomaz Baskins as Officer Harold; really charismatic and gets most of the script’s best lines.
Director David Fowler really knew how to play with his settings here-there’s not a lot of locations, but they’re used to great effect. I particularly like how locked in and claustrophobic the action beat at Brittney’s house is, as well as the calm, serene moment between her two friends on the beach, one of the few times the film slows down before the plot kicks in in earnest. It culminates in the finale, which keeps the viewer at a guess to where characters will appear and gives them the challenge of the large, spaced out building. It keeps this momentum going and we’re never at a location too long for it to get tedious. Props to their scouting as the scenery does stick with you.
While everything moving at a brisk pace is to the film’s advantage, it also hurts the plot a little as it’s kind of muddled. I found myself confused about the exact relationship with Brittney and her mother with Mr. Big and his associates, as well as certain details revealed about the impetus for the story. A bit more fleshing out of the story could help, especially as the film doesn’t even hit 80 minutes it doesn’t need to worry about timing. There’s also some stuff in the third act that was a little confusing. Not helped are some really weak effects early on-the budget does limit them in places.
Even with that, however, Big Trouble in Seattle is a lot of fun. It’s tone is consistent and the actors bring a lot of the material. While I had some issues with budget limitations and story threads that needed a bit more fleshing out or better structuring, the characters and action are compelling enough to keep me watching and I was gripped to see how it ends. A lean, moody exciting little crime thriller, really shows off the what filming local can really pull off.