THE MASON BROTHERS is an upcoming crime/thriller produced, written, directed by and starring Keith Sutliff. The plot follows two of the Mason brothers and their close friend, played by Sutliff, Brandon Pearson and Matthew Webb, respectively, as they work to find their brother's (Michael Whelan) murderer after a bank robbery gone awry.
Inspired by films such as Brian DePalma's THE UNTOUCHABLES and Tarantino's RESERVOIR DOGS, THE MASON BROTHERS aspires to emulate a tried formula, unfortunately wearing those aspirations to a stereotypical degree, from the wannabe mob attire of the leads and routine dialogue to the blatant mimicking of a RESERVOIR DOGS shootout late in the film. While there are aspects of Sutliff's film to be admired, viewers will find that it lacks in originality, thus sacrificing a mystery that could have been compelling if it weren't so easy to sniff out.
In addition to the thin fabric of originality, some of the acting outside of the four leads proves to be a distraction, and given the sometimes sluggish pacing and momentary uneventfulness, the film could have been at least twenty minutes shorter and made for a more enthralling experience.
That's not to say that all is lackluster in THE MASON BROTHERS, however. Sutliff proves himself to be capable and competent behind the camera, wringing genuine moments of tension out of character interaction and crafting impressive shots that lend the film an admirable je ne sais quoi, as does the gorgeous cinematography provided by Errol Webber Jr.
The performances and chemistry between the leads, too, make for an entertaining watch. Brandon Pearson is particularly great as Jesse Mason, the livewire brother who, for better or worse, wears every emotion on his sleeve. Michael Whelan, as well, is fantastic in the flashbacks involving his character. Due to his unconventional charm and stellar Christopher Walken impression, his character, Orion, is the most likable of the film.
All in all, THE MASON BROTHERS presents the viewer with a mixed bag. While Sutliff's direction and the performances of Pearson & Whelan are undeniable highlights, there's nothing special brewing in this thriller. What you see is what you get, and what we get is something we've seen a million times in better and worse films.
You can catch THE MASON BROTHERS in theaters starting April 14th.