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(May 30, 2016)
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WINNER! > Best Action Feature > GI Film Festival
Marine Ryan Taylor (Getty, Emulation) is given a phone number by a pretty, mysterious girl. Believing its hers, he calls and it detonates a bomb in downtown Pittsburgh! 76 Americans are killed. The Marine is given all the blame. Now, he must escape the authorities and hunt down the people who set him up before they can launch a second attack.
Rising Fear is an indie action thriller boiling with twists, turns, and a deadly conspiracy that threatens to destroy the entire US government--and freedom itself. Buckle in as Tom Getty takes you on a roller coast ride that starts with a bang, and doesn't let up until its explosive finale.
Rising Fear is the story of former Marine, Ryan Taylor, a man who's civilian life is thrown into chaos when he's implicated in a terrorist bombing in Pittsburgh. With federal agents AND a terrorist cell baring down on him, Ryan needs to use every skill he's learned to stay one step ahead and prevent an even bigger terrorist attack from happening.
Oftentimes, indie action films are notorious for their slow pacing and lack of energy. Any concerns about this movie's pace are shattered within the first five minutes. Rising Fear's plot is like the bus from Speed; it hits 50mph early on and NEVER slows down after that. The film never stops moving and the hyper-caffeinated, Paul Greengrass-esque visual style only helps to ramp up the intensity. The action set-pieces are all very well done and some of the stunts and visuals are genuinely impressive.
On a technical level, this film obviously chooses raw style over polish, a decision that works very much in its favor. It makes smart use of camera angles, fast editing and stock footage to create a grand scope on a limited budget. Sure it won't be mistaken for a glossy blockbuster, but as far as indie action films go, it reaches a level of intensity and grand scope that few others can match. All this from what is essentially a microbudget thriller!
If there's one area the film suffers, it may be that the characters feel underdeveloped at times and get lost in the chaos. The film's breakneck pace leaves few opportunities to get to know these people and it would've benefited from a few moments of peace to break up the freight train that is the film's plot.
Director/Star, Tom Getty, has a great every-man screen persona that serves the film very well but we're not given many opportunities to see him take a breathe or reflect on his predicament. This is where films like Die Hard excelled; we got to see John McClane reflect on his (horrible) situation with a sense of self-deprecating humor. This went a long way toward humanizing him in the eyes of the audience.
The film's story seems to come right out of a 90s era thriller; something that John McTiernan or Jan DeBont would have directed in their prime. This is crossed with a more modern, handheld/quick cut aesthetic and the results are surprisingly strong. It's obvious that Getty and his team know how to create a strong cinematic illusion. Even on occasions where the VFX don't quite hold up, the scenes are so exciting and well constructed that you really don't care. —James Couche, Film Combat Syndicate
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Judging Rising Fear as an independent studio production, it's right up there with some very good theatrical releases. The plot, though a bit convoluted, is not just another action film with not just another terrorist villain. There are deeper, interesting motives behind the major characters, and the acting and direction make them believable. The tension starts right in at the beginning (who IS that girl and why is she suddenly interested in this guy?), and doesn't let up through the whole film.
There is occasional humor from situations, more than, say, outright jokes. This adds to the impression that this film was well written and produced by an experienced team.
BUT WAIT! Except for acting, camera help and a few other chores, Acrolight is a ONE MAN STUDIO! It's actually a little funny to see such things as "Orchestra Conducted by Tom Getty" and "Recorded at the Acrolight Amplhitheater [sic]." Mr. Getty is loaded with talent and energy. He didn't give screen credit, but he was in excellent "hero" shape, so kudos to his trainer. Well, it was probably himself.
A few things prevent me from giving this five stars, but I still highly recommend the film: Some of the acting was amateur, there were lots of misspellings on signs, computer screens and even the end credits, and a VERY careful scrutiny will find a few flaws in the CGI.
On the plusside, LOTS of the effects were wonderfully believable, including an Apache helicopter in a chase scene... in downtown Pittsburgh. Given the total Pittsburgh flavor (even the President has a regional accent), I should say "dahntahn Pisburgh."
It's a great ride, Getty is a fine protagonist, being capable, feisty, deep and a sympathetic tinge of sadness in his manner. Endings, to me, can make or break a film; this one fit nicely and plucked my heart strings, too.
As a former resident of the area, and native of the "tahn" in which much of the shooting took place, Johnstown, Pa, I especially enjoyed seeing some familiar places. Any fan of Getty's previous films will recognize key actors, too, including the President and the Femme Fatale, Oskana.
Overall, it's a solid Four Stars. Given that I'm picky, you might give it Five!
Perhaps the most compelling takeaway is that you don't have to rely on the approval of anyone. Don't like what's coming from Hollywood? Studios don't understand your vision? Take matters into your own hands! It's possible to create something respectable if you're willing put the effort in.
We're hoping that this will be a stepping stone for Tom Getty's career. We'd like to see what he could accomplish with a $25,000 budget! Tom, crowdfund the next one, and we'll pitch in!