Let’s get stereotypical.
A film like Backfire is somewhat difficult to review as it is part bad movie but also part flaming train wreck hit by radioactive sub that can fly bad. However, it never gets to the point where the badness is fun. Instead we have a cringeworthy mess.
The film has been in circulation (limited) for a couple years but let’s go ahead and give it a 2019 release as this is when the film was given to the masses as punishment for our hubris.
We follow two idiot criminals Jerome and O.T. who strongarm a mobster before shooting him and his girlfriend. The mob doesn’t take too kindly to this, and now our idiots must flee for their lives.
(I’m going to give some spoilers. I don’t suggest watching the movie, but here is your warning).
O.T. is killed off almost immediately (I suppose the film can only balance so many morons at once), so it is pretty much Jerome’s show. The decision making process of the criminals is shockingly inept. Oh not the mob is coming—let’s flee from our home and go to our mom’s home—you know, literally the second place they would look. We end up with a series of circular decisions that keep leading Jerome and co. back into danger with no purpose.
While our main characters are stupid, the true accolade for “oh my God I can’t believe this was made in 2019” goes to the representation of the Italian mobsters. The movie transcends horrible stereotypes and reaches a tier of flat out racism that honestly stunned me. Imagine the cringiest stereotypes (complete with arguments about meatballs) coming from over-the-top actors—all of whom must have been told to try to feign mental illness in their scenes. The bad guys are presented as subhuman here and if that doesn’t annoy you, well, I’m not sure what to say.
In a different universe this film might have worked as a comedy. The fact that it is all played straight makes it somehow more disturbing. We have huge plot lines (like a kid being shown shot) that simply vanish from the film (okay, that one is resolved, but for what appears to be a couple days we don’t have any concern from the parents). Jerome seems to exist in a world akin to Grand Theft Auto where the consequences can basically be shrugged off.
The technical aspects of the film suck, too, but who cares? This is a terrible film that never should have been widely released. The fact that Netflix decided to flagship it as a new release shows how desperate they are to get their hands on any original content—quality control be damned. As we watch the once great streaming service slowly go down the drain some may lament—remind them of choices like Backfire to help sober them up.