Cinematic Releases: Flinch (2021) - Reviewed

Newcomer actor/producer/writer Cameron Van Hoy has been active in the film industry as a character actor since the late 1990s before mounting his own short film works in the 2010s.  With his big screen debut Flinch, recently released in theaters before going on-demand, the new young filmmaker demonstrates a clear love for the mobster crime films made between the 1970s and 80s.  The story of this synth and fluorescent color infused thriller is deceptively simple: a young hitman named Joey Doyle (Daniel Zovatto) who lives with his mother Gloria (Cathy Moriarty) finds himself holding a young woman named Mia Rose (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) after she witnesses him assassinating another mobster.  The easy solution is to do away with the hostage except his guilty conscience takes over and he begins to develop an affinity for the young girl.

Co-starring mob movie veterans David Proval from Mean Streets and Steven Bauer from Scarface, Flinch is clearly a love letter to the likes of Scorsese and De Palma with just a few sprinkles of Refn tossed in for good measure.  The result is at once a film we’ve seen many times before but are also tickled pink to indulge in.  Dripping with neon visuals by music video cinematographer Kai Saul, also working in his first feature, Flinch is a splendid looking mobster offering capturing the night life beautifully and the pulsating electronic score by Miami Nights 1984 adds the much needed finishing touch to the color drenched atmosphere. 
While Daniel Zovatto and Tilda Cobham-Hervey are mostly good in the leading roles, they are naturally upstaged by the veteran supporting actors with Cathy Moriarty having lost none of her fierceness and David Proval replaying the role he was born to play.  Steven Bauer’s scene, though brief has the memorable crusty swagger of a Mickey Rourke cameo and proves the actor still has it years after both Scarface and Traffic.  Simply put, he and Proval can act out their roles with their eyes closed and without reading a script, masters of their own characterizations they’ve played so many times before.

Though this pushes into contrivance at times and tries to cram in too many twists near the third act, Flinch is a welcome throwback to the cool and colorful gangster films with a heart and demonstrates writer-director Cameron Van Hoy as a director with a head on his shoulders and a clear if not derivative vision of the crime thriller.  Fans of the genre will be pleased to see veterans from it stealing the show and newcomers to the crime thriller will come away exhilarated by the flashy visuals and fast paced mobster saga unfolding.  Yeah we’ve seen this kind of film many times over but as such it is a solid offering and one of the more visually kaleidoscopic gangster films of the year. 

--Andrew Kotwicki