Review by Ale Turdó
Defending America from your own backyard
Erich Kemp’s sophomore feature My Stretch of Texas Ground brings all the drama and tension of terrorism tropes into southern American soil, with a story about a conservative senator who becomes the target of a rogue Islamic cell.
When trained assassin Abdul Latif Hassan (Junes Zahdi) travels halfway across the world and infiltrates into the United States to assassinate Senator Cruthers (Mike Gassaway), small town Sheriff Joe Haladin (Jeff Weber) seems to be the only man fit to do whatever it takes to stop him. Hassan and Haladin are presented as the antithesis of one another, standing on opposite sides of the street. But curiously they share the same drive and determination to become the last man standing.
Facts and fiction clash at multiple levels, partially thanks to a script that combines politics and warfare issues that obsess a great deal of americans since 9/11 and the consecuencial birth of the so call War on Terror. The movie tries its best to portray both sides of the conflict -sometimes stretching it a little- in order to show to the audience that violence is always nonsensical, whether you live the U.S., Yemen or anywhere. The loss of human lives leaves a mark on all of us.
Sheriff Haladin is portrayed as a Robert Forster kind of character, the cold-blooded gentle guy that is always up to the task. The small town sheriff trope works like clockwork here. Hassan, on the other side, is presented as a remorseless killing machine, willing to do everything for the cause.
Some naive plot twists are clearly there to simply add a little bit more suspense to the mix: for instance turning the terrorist attack into a personal thing by having the sheriff’s son put in harm’s way when going fishing at the worst moment imaginable. Some other secondary conflicts are also there just to beef up the characters and make them more human (like the father and son rivalry).
It all moves towards the grand finale, the final showdown between the sheriff and the terrorist. The story becomes a slow-burning action-drama, leading to a clash between two relentless forces. Budget-wise, it is an absolute shame that the final confrontation was shot in such dark conditions, most of it becomes really hard to appreciate, delivering a somehow underwhelming conclusion.
Willingly or unwillingly, the movie ends up being a curious depiction of the current state of affairs that includes Trumpesque politics, the Republican foreign agenda and the never ending collateral damage caused by the middle east warfare. In some occasions, the low budget limitations gets on the way of this themes. But taking a closer look and giving a pass to the camp-like feeling, you might see most of it is still there somewhere.
My Stretch of Texas Ground is available on Amazon Prime.
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