Review by Ale Turdó
FPM (First Person Movie)
Trey Batchelor’s directorial debut with Burning Dog (2020) mixes a wide array of genres and subgenres such as action, comedy, buddy cop movies, criminal heist and double crossing scenarios with their matching tropes, resulting in quite a particular and unorthodox blend on screen.
Combining first person shooter aesthetic with fast paced action, Burning Dog tells the story of a man simply introduced as Five, a video game designer unlucky enough to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. An unstoppable chain of events starts to unfold after two shady cops wrongfully suspect Five is involved in a blackmail scheme. As the plot unfolds, Five will try everything to escape from the situation, only to get deeper and deeper into a conspiracy involving internal affairs officers, the russian mob and dark web hackers among other colourful subjects of the criminal underworld.
As an audience, we experience the entire movie in first person, navigating the wild and shadiest corners of Los Angeles through the eyes of Five: every chase, every fight and every shooting feels like a constant rush of pure adrenaline. Needless to say, pulling off this kind of movie is definitively no walk in the park, it requires a level of craftsmanship we do not get to see that often in a director’s first feature.
Speaking about first-time directing, the technical nature of the film itself (the non-stop character’s point of view) sometimes results in minor mishaps such as an unintentional sloppy continuity between takes, which breaks the first person illusion. Even though the pacing is accurate, the often frantic rhythm threatens to get a little bit tiresome.
The non-linear narrative approach keeps us intrigued as long as it takes, in order to watch our main character go through all the hoops. The story line keeps going back and forth, slowly putting all the pieces of the puzzle together. Some might say that the storyline and its subsequent plots are constantly on the edge of becoming sort of convoluted, with too many twist and turns, dangerously trying too hard to keeps us entertained.
There is a sort of Scorsese feel flowing in the air, like an After Hours vibe attached to this titular character who is always on the run but getting nowhere, trapped in a surreal and nightmarish environment. In true video game fashion, Burning Dog feels like a never ending level, a ride that never stops. There’s always somewhere to run to, a non player character to
unwillingly follow into certain trouble… and the undying debate about the thin fuzzy line that divides the real world from the simulation realm.
Ale Turdó —Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Alejandro is a film critic and movie enthusiast that has been writing about movies for the past 7 years, covering everything from blockbusters to indie gems and all in between. He majored in Sound Design and Cinematography in college and is a full time digital content producer. He’s the kind of guy that thinks that even the worst movie can have something interesting to write about. Additionally, he writes for Escribiendo Cine and A Sala Llena. Twitter: @aleturdo and IG: @hoysalecine