Split Lip helmer Christopher Sheffield is back in the mix in co-directorial fashion with filmmaker Kellen Garner for Royals’ Revenge, putting them square in the desert settings of Arizona for a Western thriller that serves advantageously to the credit and efforts of independent cinema.
The story opens with a rousing introduction to siblings Travis (Garner) and Lucy Royal (Alexis Moeller), bounty hunters having nabbed a wanted fugitive in an effort to find his elusive criminal father. The explosive shootout soon leads Travis and Lucy into the nearest town to collect their bounty where they stumble upon the man who killed their beloved mother: William Slade (George Nelson), a corrupt politician running for Governor of the territory.
Their arrival also brings them a chance reunion with their two long lost brothers, Brody (Chade Green), and Pete (Aaron Ginn-Forsberg); It turns out both brothers are working Slade from their own angles, much like Travis who would rather less waste any bullets than expose Slade in front of the town for the monster he is. The only question remains, however, is will any of the Royals’ be able to deliver retribution to the man who destroyed their lives so many years ago, or is Slade’s power and influence so indelible that he can’t be touched?
Birthed after twenty years in the making from the mind of co-star Nelson who also serves as the film’s stunt coordinator, Royals’ Revenge is an excellently-performed bit of indie fare for fans of Westerns and revenge stories. The drama is amply topped off by introspective and intense dialogue moments, and tremendous screen chemistry among the toplining cast, firstly exploring the paradigm between Travis and Lucy who aren’t exactly working together at first; compared to ex-soldier Travis, Lucy is tough-as-nails and just as steadfast and cunning, though less experienced at killing.
Viewers also get a hearty, sobering moment of music and reflection by way of Moeller, Garner and Green – the latter whose Brody puts on a show as impressive in vocals as he does in fisticuffs; The film’s biggest fight scene setup is the fight club which is run by Slade, which is where Brody and Pete come in, with the latter posing as a gambler who goes from sitting at the bar and downing drinks, to ultimately befriending Slade in the process.
The revenge plot seems mostly inevitable given all the pieces on the board, but you’re never really certain as to what the endgame will lead to, even if it looks like Slade is outnumbered and outgunned. It helps that Royals’ Revenge evens out its story with smart writing to balance out with good drama and characterization, set pieces and action sequences that are feasible to the film’s spectacle and delivery.
Indeed, you got your indie westerns that aren’t without their share of cheese and unrefinement, and if you’re already a hardcore fan of western thrills, drama and action, Royals’ Revenge is already right up your alley. The good thing above all else in this particular instance, however, is a directing duo in Sheffield and Garner that brims with promise.
The official trailer debuted back and July, and with this review, it’s pleasing to iterate that Royals’ Revenge rightly delivers.
Royals’ Revenge will run for two weeks in Arizona, at Harkins Theaters Arizona and at Mainstreet Theaters beginning Friday, October 23. More screening locations will be announced in the weeks ahead. Follow Roughrider Total Entertainment and Persephone Productions on Facebook for future updates.