SAM Worthington’s choices since Avatar have taken the high road for any actor in such a position. After such a huge commercial success, the actor has his choice of films. Lesser stars often take the low road and bank the money by choosing to perform in what tend to be a banal, derivative or cynical follow-ups. Even worse, they may over-reach in taking on characters that may be beyond their skills.
Worthington took the high road, choosing a number of smaller, varied films that each offered promise, if not ultimately delivering. I enjoyed the underrated spy drama The Debt, in which he starred opposite Jessica Chastain, Marton Csokas and Helen Mirren; the romantic drama Last Night less so.
I’m yet to see Man on a Ledge, in cinemas now, but I’m encouraged Worthington is using his heft to get the Australian film Drift produced in Western Australia. He’s also using his muscle to re-engineer Clash of the Titans with a new director as Wrath of the Titans. That’s the money job.
Texas Killing Fields (M, Roadshow, 113 min, $30.99) was a calculated punt. It is the second feature film directed by Ami Canaan Mann, who happens to be the daughter of Michael Mann, director of Heat, The Insider, Collateral and others. And the film’s constituent parts are enticing.
The Manns developed Don Ferrarone’s screenplay — based on real stories — together, so no surprises that we open with two contrasting cops (Worthington’s Mike Souder and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Brian Haigh) driving in a police car. They’re investigating a murder, which soon takes the back seat as their attention turns to a missing persons case and serial killing in an area swamped by it.
Mann is a competent director who worked more on atmosphere than narrative structure. Consequently, this is a film to fall into rather than have you at the edge of your seat. You fall into a grubby world populated by well-rendered minor characters (Chastain, Chloe Moretz) and with two decent lead performances (if struggling with poorly explained characters) and a neat score by Tindersticks’ Dickon Hinchliffe. Not quite enough to make a credible whole but another plus for Worthington. And for Ami Mann, something promising beckons.