As a bordertown El Paso has easy access to drugs and black market organs from Mexico. Unfortunately for Billy Walker, the same cartel controls the trafficking of both. He starts robbing from them to pay for a new liver for his mother. It is not a really well-thought-out plan, but at least he’ll be cleaning up the town a little in director-screenwriter Scott Windhauser’s Death in Texas, which releases Friday in theaters and on VOD.
Walker has just been paroled thanks to his mother Grace’s failing health. He isn’t a bad guy. He just had bad luck and a bad temper. She is so far down on the donor list, her chances of a transplant are remote, unless Walker buys a liver “off the books.” That will take 160K in cash, so he starts with a former associate working for the Cartel. Stealing Cartel money quickly attracts the attention of Reynolds, the Cartel boss and Asher, the crooked cop in his pocket.
Meanwhile, Grace finds unlikely romance with John Scofield, a disgraced former doctor now working as an orderly in the hospital. His backstory will turn out to be significant to Walker’s story, in a very contrived way.
Windhauser just can’t seem to make up his mind what Death in TX is supposed to be: indie crime drama, exploitative narco-thriller, or self-parody. It is just never sufficiently gritty, grungy, or violent to really qualify as anything. Still, Ronnie Gene Blevins deserves credit for his hardboiled but understated performance as Walker. He is pretty solid, but Bruce Dern just looks laughable as Reynolds, as if the Cartel would choose a desiccated old hippie to run its American operations.