Director and longtime fight coordinator Carter Ferguson has seen a rising of late with the numerous wins he’s amassed on the shortfilm front. With a sequel now in production, there’s pretty much no question as to the success of Dead End and that of actor Bryan Larkin’s foreseeable future following further credits in Ross Boyask’s Vengeance and Donnie Yen crime drama, Chasing The Dragon.
Dead End definitely aims for edginess in its approach to the hitman genre, less so an action thriller than a well-focused, kinetic and stirring character study with a script that evenly matches pacing and performance caliber. It grants us as sturdy delivery in Larkin who shepherds the narrative as The Contractor, an international hitman whose last job sends him to Hong Kong where he convenes with Young Gun, a younger prospect working in the same profession.
Dead End gives you striking background scenery and drone shots, and illustrious views of Hong Kong’s neon lit nighttime aesthetic. The story unfolds in almost real-time flashbacks that introduce us to the Contractor’s backstory, highlighting the causality of being a killer that stretches both intrinsic, as well as external, and in degrees beyond the first person.
Many aspects about Dead End, in which Ferguson also co-stars as the Contractor’s handler, are fairly cliché from a certain standpoint. Of course, this speaks to the question of how many times can approach the hitman genre, in which case we are brought back to Dead End as a clear-cut example of how to make something fresh and fun no matter what.
The action, of which there is little and brings just enough to spike the tension amid the film’s kinetic atmosphere, plays second to the unraveling drama and intrigue that Dead End commands. Larkin is a sharp, strong, tough-as-nails actor with a world of charisma, and Julian Gaertner exudes level of freshness and boyish charm to his role as the overzealous Young Gun.
You get high-end drama, elements of suspense and danger in Dead End that provide a supple mixture in packaging a fine piece of cinema for the masses. I was instantly left wanting more, and now that Dead End 2 is coming, I can’t wait to see how high the bodycount grows with the Contractor back in business.