Friday, May 01, 2020

Nightfire (Short Film), Co-Starring Dylan Baker

Ukraine could use a few good action heroes right about now. Unfortunately, these two American super-spies will probably not qualify. However, the aftermath of their latest mission gets so complicated, they might end up doing the right thing anyway in director-co-screenwriter-co-editor Brando Benetton & cinematographer-co-editor Garrett Nicholson’s longish (43-minute) short, Nightfire, which releases today on streaming services.

In the very-near future, the American government has essentially purchased the embattled nation of Ukraine for two billion dollars, so Putin launches a nuclear strike, ending the world and the picture, except apparently not in this alternate universe. Instead, Agents Carter and Ross are dispatched to recover micro-drives holding sensitive information regarding the transaction. In the process, they also rescue Prof. Olivetti, an Italian national held hostage by the terrorists—or so it seems.

After returning to a hero’s welcome, Carter discovered they were being played by shadowy conspirators, which makes him a target, (whereas the more cynical Ross sort of figured as much from the start). Thusly launches an admirably cinematic chase through the streets of Verona.

Nightfire started out as a student film, so its professional sheen, legit distribution, and casting of the highly recognizable Dylan Baker in a supporting role are impressive. The action sequences are also nicely produced, but Benetton & Los Silva’s narrative is really a tangled web of credibility issues and predictable clichés. Maybe we should be grateful the American operatives are not the villains here, but that dubious honor is still reserved for an American senator (who weirdly seems to wield presidential-level power).

It is always fun to watch Dylan Baker (whom many viewers are currently following in Hunters), but since he plays Olivetti, we are immediately suspicious of the character. Lorenzo Pisoni makes a respectable action protag as Carter, but Greg Hadley constantly up-stages him as the hard-nosed Agent Ross.

Despite overachieving, Nightfire is not a Cinderella story on the level of El Mariachi or other micro-budget breakthroughs. It looks great thanks to Nicholson’s lensing, especially the scenes of Verona by night, the characters and Macguffin are nothing special. Still, fans of Baker intrigued by the picturesque setting my want to check out Nightfire when it starts streaming today (5/1) on Hulu and Amazon.