Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Doing Hard Time

Every once in a while I watch a film that fails on every level with morbid curiosity. I can’t help but wonder how a script that makes no sense whatsoever could ever get bankrolled into production. They say there is a sucker born every day, but whoever laid out the cash for this film is the Sucker King. Doing Hard Time was written by Preston A. Whitmore II, who has several screen plays to his credit. Several of these scripts are prison movies, which would make one think that Whitmore would be capable of creating an accurate depiction of prison life. Instead, this film tries to survive on writing that lacks any semblance of continuity or plausibility.

Doing Hard Time tells the story of a drug deal gone bad, followed by a foot chase involving gunplay that was the brief highlight of the film. During the gunfight, a young boy is shot in the eye by one of the drug dealers. Neither drug dealer will tell on the other regarding the shooting so they are both convicted of the small quantity of drugs recovered by police. They are sentenced to five years in prison. The father of the young boy who is killed falls into a deep depression and decides to get himself locked up in order to avenge his son’s death. An improbable series of events in prison fails to resolve the many issues created by this film. The cops and prison guards all appear to be corrupt, the bad guys are varying degrees of good and the twists and turns that are attempts at plot fail to add up.

The problems with this script are numerous. The father of the deceased boy is consumed by anger and depression. The bad guys only have to do two years of their sentence before they can get out. If he wants revenge, he can simply wait two years. Instead he sets a series of events into motion to get himself locked up and equipped to handle himself on the inside. If you consider it would take months for such a plan to unravel, the parole date for the bad guys would be close anyway. Additionally, the father creates a weapon that can be manufactured in prison. This weapon would not be detected by a magnetometer. So, if you really can’t wait, it would be quicker and easier to make the weapon, visit the inmates and kill them inside the prison as a visitor.

Aside from the fact that you pretty much have to accept that all prison officials are on the take and all Police Officers are conducting profile traffic stops and abusing prisoners, the story here still manages to require extreme stretches of the imagination. We get to witness a prison fight, complete with the mandatory “prison shank.” What didn’t make sense to me was that the fight took place in the kitchen, where knives were abundant…at one point the conflict ends up on a table where a silverware container gets knocked around. Neither inmate is armed at that point and either one could have easily grabbed a weapon. The timing of the events was forced and poorly thought out. Another concept that never played out for me was the fact that the boy was holding a video camera at the time he was shot. I though the film from that camera would come into play at some point in this movie. I was surprised that it was entirely forgotten. In every sense, the plot in this movie lacked substance and credibility.

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