Review: Empty Tarantino clone 'Die in a Gunfight' shoots blanks

Diego Boneta and Alexandra Daddario star in this limp play on "Romeo and Juliet."

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

In "Die in a Gunfight," red flag No. 1 comes up immediately: we're told via voiceover that our hero, Ben Gibbon, has been in 723 scrapes, scuffles and brawls. 723! Not 700, not 725. Why such an exact figure? Why are we even counting after, say, 50? Guy gets in a lot of fights, we get it. But to laser focus in on such a specific number — and it's the first line of dialogue in the film! — is a big sign of trouble to follow.

Diego Boneta, Wade Allain-Marcus and Alexandra Daddario in "Die in a Gunfight."

Things don't get much better from there in "Die in a Gunfight," an all-style, no-substance riff on "Romeo & Juliet" cribbed straight from the Tarantino playbook. In addition to the smart-alecky voiceover (courtesy of Billy Crudup) we also get animation, quick cuts, freeze frames, title cards and all sorts of other flashy storytelling gimmicks. What we don't get is anything worth sinking your teeth into, let alone dying for.  

Diego Boneta ("Rock of Ages") stars as Ben, who may bear the constant facial scars of someone who gets in a lot of scuffles but doesn't carry himself like he's ever been in a fight in his life.

His family is in a heated rivalry with another wealthy family that dates back generations, so naturally he's got the hots for their daughter, Mary Rathcart (Alexandra Daddario). Will they be able to fight through their family drama and fall in love? Better question: will anyone be compelled to care? 

Director Collin Schiffli gives "Die in a Gunfight" a glossy sheen that's the visual equivalent of a nonstick pan. But the whole enterprise comes off as so vapid and self-satisfied that it makes for a completely empty viewing experience. You don't need 723 reasons to dislike this movie, you only need one: it's a dud.

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

'Die in a Gunfight'

GRADE: D

Rated R: for violence, language and drug use

Running time: 92 minutes

In theaters