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  • Pawn
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on April 14, 2013
Give an actor a good role and he'll do it for "nothing".

That axiom certainly applies to the cast of PAWN, a 2013 thriller, now available in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Shot in fifteen days, primarily on a single set and location, PAWN is a low budget tense drama, filled with unexpected plot twists, that features not inexpensive actors like Michael Chiklis, Stephen Lang, Ray Liotta, Nikki Reed, Sean Faris and Forest Whitaker in memorable key roles.

To reveal much about the plot would lead to spoilers, so let's just say that it revolves around the hold-up of an all-night diner that goes terribly wrong. Indeed, just when you think that you've got everything figured out, the scene shifts backward or forward in time, and you are, once again, left wondering. PAWN, directed by David A. Armstrong from Jay Anthony White's well-crafted screenplay, is one of those deliciously plotted movies, like THE USUAL SUSPECTS, that demands a second viewing.

Chiklis, who co-produced the picture, is particularly powerful as the leader of the hold-up crew. Also making a strong impression is Stephen Lang, playing the diner's manager and, in a relatively brief role, Liotta, who has a mesmerizing metaphoric moment.

Suggestion: If you can avoid watching the trailer for PAWN before seeing the movie, do so. Like so many trailers these days, this one reveals too much of the plot and, as previously suggested, that can spoil the enjoyment of the picture itself.

The Blu-Ray/DVD contains a "Making of" featurette.

© Michael B. Druxman
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VINE VOICEon May 19, 2013
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I admit when I first read the cover of this movie, I did not think much. It was an "open" title PAWN. And it had Forest Whitaker and Michael Chiklis in it, so I said lets try it.

I was VERY wrong on questioning the movie!

I will not spoil the movie. In my opinion even the trailer gives too much away. I will say it deals with a crime at an all night dinner, and the actions that occur right before, during and after the robbery.

I cannot stress enough how I got into this movie! It's one of those movies where you don't look at the time during it, but when it's over you say "hey where did the time go?!"
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on October 12, 2015
It's interesting, but the film is handicapped by the script. In more intense movies, human lives matter and the balance of power between good and evil and right and wrong is emphasized, and the sanctity of life is usually preserved as each death becomes more and more tragic; not so with this nut, as we just come out randomly killing off vital characters right-away, and, prematurely.

One example of a great film which exemplifies all the elements that this one got wrong- would be "The Negotiator" (1998). I wanted to love "Pawn"- I really tried, but the more I watched it, the more irrational and unbelievable the characters acted, and the weaker the story got- right up until the anti-climax...

Some folks actually do like dark films like this, however, which strive to leave one feeling angry or slightly disturbed as the credits roll, and if that is you- you'll find this one to be collectable, like "Closure" or "Prisoners"- but unlike those films, ya gotta admit after watching this one, it only gets a "B-" at best.

Worth a watch or two.
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Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
PAWN is basically a heist movie that takes place in a small urban diner late one night. A group of thugs take over the diner in what seems to be a simple "bag it and run" operation. It soon becomes apparent that the leader of the group has an agenda different from the men working under him. In the midst of it all is a man named Nick (Sean Faris), a recently released convict seeking to keep his life in order. Nick wants nothing more than to return home to his wife and get on living with his life. However, he soon becomes a pawn involved in a game much larger than any he has ever played.

PAWN features a stellar cast that includes such heavyweights as Nikki Reed, Ray Liotta, Forest Whitaker, Michael Chiklis, and Stephen Lang. Considering this is an extremely low budget movie filmed in just fifteen days, the cast list is rather impressive.

Part of the plot of the movie is revealed through a series of flashbacks that reveal a different part of the story told from the perspective of a different character (think RASHOMON or VANTAGE POINT). I occasionally enjoy this style of storytelling in movies and I liked how it was used in PAWN. Unfortunately, the device is thrown away about halfway through the movie and the last part of the movie is told in a more linear fashion.

Upon initially watching PAWN, I didn't think I was going to like it. The first few scenes left me disoriented and I wasn't sure what type of movie I was watching; I thought it was going to be a kind of heist movie, but after the first couple of scenes I thought I was watching some trippy time travel flick like DONNIE DARKO. However, once I got further along, I really started to enjoy the movie and began trying to unravel the tangled threads of the story myself. Although there are far better heist movies out there, PAWN is a better movie than I thought it would be and I'm glad I watched it.
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Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Knowing that Pawn was released directly to DVD, my expectations weren't too high, but the cast looked very solid, so I invested an hour and a half in the movie. I don't regret it a bit. This was a barnburner of a story, with plenty of blood but nothing too gory, and a surprise twist around every corner. Like other nonlinear films, the scenes are shown out of sequence, but unlike some of those films, it's never hopelessly confusing. I didn't have to watch it again to figure out what really happened.

The cast made the story work so well. Michael Chiklis was superb as a vicious gangster holding up a late-night diner (and check out his great British accent). Forest Whitaker is the cop who comes in to play a little chess with the manager. He catches on to the robbers, all hell breaks loose, and the scene suddenly shifts to a hospital room where Ray Liotta is questioning a patient who was in the diner. And in my opinion, this may be Liotta's finest performance since Goodfellas.

What you think you see isn't always what's really happening, which makes Pawn a fun film to watch, with all the twists that are thrown at you. And sometimes it's impossible to separate the good guys from the bad as the body count rises.

Pawn is a fine film with a marvelous cast and some of the most suspenseful action I've seen in a while. Also, don't miss the Behind the Scenes special feature, where the actors talk about their roles. It's worth watching, especially the revelation that the film was shot in only fifteen days.

Rated "R" for violence, brief use of cocaine, and plenty of F-bombs.
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on August 25, 2014
This is a version of the movie "Crash" without the continuity and with a less believable storyline. Well known actors try to make this work: Michael Chiklis, Common, Ray Liotta and Forest Whitaker to name a few. This is another Murphy's Law movie because you must be willing to believe that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. I cannot get past the fact that so many unrelated people can all do the stupidest things within a 24 hour period. I tried to watch it again while I write this review but I couldn't finish it. There are plenty of stars but this is not a five (5) star movie.
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on May 7, 2013
I enjoyed this movie very much. I paused it with 30 minutes left, to get an apple turnover, only to find out it had been ruined by my son. Cute, right?.. He's 29! He's also unemployed, living under MY roof, and he destroys the only thing I had to look forward to! Great way to start my vacation.
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"Pawn" might be a straight-to-DVD thriller, but it boasts a surprisingly strong cast! Among a slew of recognizable faces, you've got Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, Common, Stephen Lang, Ray Liotta, Sean Faris, Nikki Reed, Max Beesley, Marton Csokas, and Jessica Szohr. But I was primarily intrigued by Michael Chiklis taking the film's most prominent role and serving as a producer. I'm a big fan of Chiklis, his Vic Mackey on "The Shield" will go down in my book as one of TV's greatest anti-heroes. And after viewing "Pawn," a relatively low-budget affair, I could see what might have appealed to him. Setting up the classic heist-gone-wrong scenario, the film starts off as a stand-off between cops and robbers with a bounty of hostages caught in between. But director David A. Armstrong and screenwriter Jerome Anthony White clearly have other things on their mind. They want "Pawn" to be a twisty and clever enterprise that leaves the audience guessing about every character's real motivations. As the film progresses, flashbacks start to reveal that things might not be what they seem in this gritty, if flawed, movie.

Chiklis plays a British thug (Why British? Who knows?) who leads a team on a late night heist on a popular midtown diner. Despite the lateness of the hour, the restaurant is packed with an assortment of innocent (and not-so-innocent) victims. When a local cop (Whitaker) enters the premises, the situation goes from bad to worse. But who, as they say, is zooming who? Who on the police force can be trusted? What was the goal of targeting the diner? And can anyone come out of this unscathed? I won't reveal anything relevant to the film's surprises other than to say that Faris quickly becomes the centerpiece of the hostage situation. As an ex-con caught up in the intrigue, is his presence at the diner merely a coincidence? That's a central question that haunts many of the principle characters as "Pawn" progresses.

While "Pawn" positions itself as a twisty and clever thriller, it really isn't as smart as I would have liked. The metaphor of the chess piece is revealed late in the picture, but it's not particularly convincing. As major secrets are uncovered, the connections grew increasingly tenuous or unbelievable. Structured as a narrative puzzle, I felt that I had seen this device used to better effect in other films. The screenplay has a lot of great ideas, but many are left unexplored or go relatively nowhere. I especially liked how one character (Reed) was held and then inexplicably released. She had seen many of the major players involved in a grand conspiracy at that point, but they let her go like it was no big deal. This is also one of those movies that relies on the plot device that there is such organized corruption in the police force and this equates to having murder-for-hire thugs on the payroll. All in all, though, "Pawn" is entertaining. I recommend watching it for the actors (it is better served through rental, though). About 3 1/2 stars, I'll round up for this being a solid enough straight-to-DVD endeavor. KGHarris, 4/13.
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on February 26, 2015
Surprising movie that I actually enjoyed. Checked it out randomly being a fan of Michael Chiklis and I liked the story. Plenty of good actors in my opinion and makes for an interesting watch. It's not a Hollywood blockbuster of course, but for a random movie, turned out good.
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on August 9, 2013
Big Names which you would think would lead to a better movie. But this movie proved that theory false. I do not get why M.Chiklis had an irish accent? I never really got used to it and found it to be completely strange. The movie is slow paced and the acting is sub par.
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