Guy Pearce Slums It In “Disturbing the Peace”

Disturbing the Peace Guy Pearce in "Disturbing the Peace."

A limp. microbudget Texas actioner that gives whole new meaning to the term “lone-star state.”

It’s a brand-new day for the Texan residents kept safe under the watchful eye of police officer & Disturbing the Peace protagonist Jim Dillon (Guy Pearce). The crows are crowing, fresh pots of coffee are brewing and a vicious biker gang just rolled into town. Led by the nefarious Diablo (Devon Sawa), this gaggle of crooks has taken the local townsfolk, including local diner employee and possible love interest Amanda (Barbie Blank) hostage as part of an elaborate bank robbery scheme. After accidentally killing a fellow officer in a hostage situation, Dillon never thought he’d get a chance for redemption. But a brand-new day has dawned. It’s time for him to saddle up. It’s time for him… to disturb the peace.

Directed by York Alec Shackleton, Disturbing the Peace is a tedious husk of a movie. It so lazily assembles together action film cliches that it could have easily hailed from that A.I. system Warner Bros. is now using to greenlight movies. Glaringly apparent low-budget confines haven’t inspired the filmmakers to use their imagination or just go for delightful schlock. It’s rare for Disturbing the Peace to not take the most boring storytelling route imaginable. It can’t even be bothered to come up with a few nifty gnarly action beats, the kiss of death for any low-budget action movie like this one. 

Chuck Hustmyre’s screenplay doesn’t have time for anything fun, considering it’s too busy going through rote narrative beats. Dillon learning to trust himself to uphold the law again is executed nary a glimmer of narrative wit; it’s just a barely reheated version of the same character arc we’ve all seen in vastly superior titles like Die Hard. Another bungled storytelling element involves one of Diablo’s henchman being uncomfortable with the level of murders his superiors are dishing. It’s unintentionally amusing how much screentime is spent on this henchman who ends up being totally superfluous to the plot.

Nobody expects Paul Thomas Anderson-level work from a low-budget action movie like Disturbing the Peace, but Shackleton can’t even muster the storytelling craft of Paul W.S. Anderson. There’s just nothing fun or intense even on a surface level to distract from how poorly put together the whole thing is. Of course, the low quality of this production is already readily apparent from the poor cinematography and direction. Even the buildings in the background underwhelm. There’s no shortage of visually appealing locales you could only find in Texas; why, then, did Disturbing the Peace opt for a barrage of forgettable locations you could find anywhere?

There’s no shortage of visually appealing locales you could only find in Texas; why, then, did Disturbing the Peace opt for a barrage of forgettable locations you could find anywhere?

Inhabiting these locations is a collection of performances that run the gamut from phoned-in to outright grating. Most disappointing are the baddies; action movies of this ilk can frequently deliver entertainingly over-the-top adversaries but there’s not a memorable mustache-twirler to be found in this pack of motorcycle-hopping Southerners. Even a main villain named Diablo ends up being a snooze, thanks to a forgettable performance from Sawa.

Headlining this cast is Pearce, returning to action movies after all the demand from legions of fans of 2001’s The Time Machine. Pearce has been sublime in plenty of other movies, but here he mostly comes across as bored with the proceedings as the viewer. Who can blame him? When you’re in a movie this devoid of fun, it’s easy to find yourself nodding off. Guy Pearce deserves so much better than Disturbing the Peace, and so do moviegoers seeking out remotely competent action fare. Giddy-on-up to practically any other action movie, partner.

Disturbing the Peace hits VOD January 17th.

Disturbing the Peace Trailer:

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