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Backtrace review – memory-loss heist caper is one to forget

Leslie Felperin
·2-min read

This plodding crime thriller came out in the US in 2018 but now is its chance to dazzle the UK with its dullness, straight-to-digital lost heist-money shenanigans and easy-to-see-coming plot twists. The whole thing is really waxy and sad, like the immobile face of co-star Sylvester Stallone; although the chance to enjoy the always interesting, never-as-big-as-he-should-have-been Matthew Modine, still looking pretty fly with a shock of white-and-gold hair, is very welcome.

An opening blam-blam shootout establishes the stakes and premise: a gang of criminals and inside men plotted and pulled off a bank heist, only to get ambushed in the woods. The multimillion-dollar haul was never found, and the only survivor was Donovan MacDonald (Modine). Unfortunately, a head wound left him with profound retrograde amnesia, and he spends another seven years in a medical penitentiary not even able to remember the crime he’s accused of or, more importantly, where the money is.

But nurse Erin (Meadow Williams), fellow inmate Lucas (Ryan Guzman) and shady security guard Farren (Tyler Jon Olson) bust him out of prison and administer an experimental drug that might help him recover his memory if it doesn’t kill him first. Meanwhile, Stallone plays a local cop who has been making one of those mood boards with mugshots and strings wound between push pins for years, and is now being compelled to work with an FBI agent (Christopher McDonald, always a hoot) with a dodgy moustache. The lawmen get far less air time than Modine and Co, which is a blessing really.

Shot in Georgia, a popular filming location, and here playing itself for a change, the whole dreary thing looks as if it was put through an Instagram filter called Rotgut that makes everything look like it was soaked in weak coffee and bile. Somehow it fits the depressed, post-industrial mood that the climax takes place in an abandoned concrete factory.

• Available from 5 March on Amazon Prime Video.