In some regions titled Blackway after the villain in the film played by Ray Liotta, this film plays more like a Western or local story rather than a classic revenge thriller, which is what makes it so enjoyable.
When Lillian (Stiles) moves home to the logging community she grew up in, she unwittingly catches the eye of local crime boss and ex-lawman Blackway (Liotta), who is soon stalking her. Because of his power in the town, the Sherriff is afraid to help her and most locals recommend she give up and leave. But Lillian is made of sterner stuff, and she manages to find one man and his friend who are willing to help her: an old logger (Hopkins) and his stuttering young friend Nate (Ludwig).
Over the course of the film we learn more about the three, through flashbacks and stories, and the film moves towards in conclusion inexorably, leaving you wondering what their plan is against such a fearsome man.
With beautiful locations, and based around a long drive to collect information and head into the forest for the show down, the film feels a bit like Shane or other Westerns, as one man must protect the innocent and go up against the bad guy when the law fails in a small town. But it’s also a nice story about the little guy sticking up for himself. The three are not traditional heroes, but they use what they have, intelligence, courage and determination, to try, even though they might not win. It feels like a fable in that sense, a traditional American story, but also based on real problems, the kinds of things that could happen to people you know, or went to high school with.
Perhaps if you’re looking for a typical revenge flick this might not sit well with you, but on the whole, it really works. Ray Liotta has only grown more menacing with age, and there’s always something about Anthony Hopkins that gives the impression that he’s a kind man who could kill you. Stiles and Ludwig alongside them are warm, vulnerable but strong figures, eyeing each other off as potential friends, or something more.
A good, gripping story, with strongly delineated characters and fine performances from old pros, this film is a good tale with a bite.