I’m not at all familiar with director Daniel Zirilli’s repetoire, but I’m always keen on a filmmaker’s endeavors when it comes to tapping into martial arts stunt talent. So goes his latest venture with stuntman, filmmaker and producer, actor Dean Alexandrou who caught my attention as early as 2013 with his impressive 2010 award-winning shortfilm, Dohard. It’s little moments like this that keep me on the edge of my seat and wanting more, and just a few years later, we now have his latest pairing with Zirilli for the new thriller, Time Rush, showcasing an otherwise worthy experiment in independent film with some terrific moments…as well as some not-so-terrific ones.
Indeed, this film is pretty damn ambitious at times, but it lacks aplenty in quite a few technical areas, including audio and continuity – the latter attributed largely to the film’s guerilla characteristics, including moments where guns are blazing in the open streets of Bangkok and nobody flinches, which I thought was hilarious. Still, I was fascinated by the concept being applied through Alexandrou’s script which endures quite a few twists and turns for this particular story where we meet main character Alex, awakened, dazed and confused with a 30-minute countdown on his watch and a man in front of him getting his head blown off. Thus, in a scenario that ultimately repeats itself with no clear end in sight and otherwise only one fatal result, the chase begins almost immediately at the top of the film with our hero dodging bullets at the behest of a private military tactical unit hot on his tail, and end is always the same in some capacity – either getting him killed or violently knocked out. His only saving grace: his girlfriend, Jane, who he struggles to remember with each cryptik clue bringing him closer to the end of a vicious, drug-induced time loop that threatens to take away everything and everyone he loves.
The film jumps back and forth between the span of six months and a matter of minutes throughout as it tries to keep up with itself just a little bit more in its backstory. Actress Selina Lo, an award-winning martial artist multi-faceted in many styles, shines in the largely dramatic role of Jane, Alex’s long lost girlfriend, and similarly, the pneumonic catalyst that aides Alex’s subconcious before the bullets start flying again. Actors Michael Aston and Richard Dee Roberts are left picking up the slack in the film’s few key flashback scenes in the respective roles as a UK government agent looking to hire Michael’s pharmaceutical company off the books to use unassuming people as experimental test subjects, while actor Byron Gibson appears as the one who dares to play our ill-fated whilstleblower of the whole operation.
I have to give credit to Zirilli and Alexandrou who both executive produced the film on top of their respective roles on this production. Clearly some corners were cut and there are definitely a few close calls, including a loose dog whose daredevil cameo appearance comes just as Alexandrou is trying to escape the front of a train through a narrow commercial railway. This, coupled with the film’s numerous action set pieces are just the icing on the cake for fans who are fond of Thai stunt action, here and now with co-star and stunt coordinator Kecha Khamphakdee on both ends of the camera, and team Jaika Stunts getting some sweet fighting moments of its own with players like David Bueno, Alex Winters and Wirawat Kemklad to name a few.
People like Alexandrou will always be my go-to for almost all things in martial arts on film, for we need people like him to continue investing in ideas while he improves his craft. Here with Zirilli at the helm, Time Rush certainly helps keep that in perspective, although among its crippling flaws, the concept leaves you wallowing in a plot that takes bigger leaps more than it can afford to, on top of weak character development in a few areas, campy scripting and paper thin acting. The concept is a worthy one in terms of setting the story both back and forth in time, but it feels more meandering than thrilling.
The biggest factors to enjoy about this film are Lo and Alexandrou, the fights featuring Khampakdee and Team Jaika, and Ron Smoorenburg who absolutely conquers as the principle villain. A prominent stunt player in Thailand nowadays following a career with highlights that include Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen, Mickey Hardt, Scott Adkins and Tony Jaa, Smoorenburg is someone who has only gotten better over the years, and he never disappoints when he’s on screen and in his element.
On that note, perhaps the most rewarding thing about Time Rush is that we get Alexandrou, as a bonus or consolation – however which way you choose to view it. He’s definitely someone to lend an eyeful to and he shows it beautifully as a talented action performer with the potential for decent acting if steered the right way, and most importantly, the will to walk the talk and be the example he sees fit. Overall, I recommend Time Rush as a sure rental.