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‘Standoff at Sparrow Creek’: Interrogation drama full of questionable choices

An ex-cop (James Badge Dale) questions fellow militia members about a mass killing in "The Standoff at Sparrow Creek."

An ex-cop (James Badge Dale) questions fellow militia members about a mass killing in "The Standoff at Sparrow Creek." | RLJE Films

“The Standoff at Sparrow Creek” starts with recluse and ex-cop militiaman Gannon (James Badge Dale) overhearing reports of a mass shooting, claiming multiple casualties, on his police scanner.

His militia leader Ford (Chris Mulkey) calls a meeting with the rest of the members at their warehouse hideout. With information from the rest of the party they learn that the shooting happened at a cop’s funeral, the shooter is at large and police believe someone from a militia is behind it all.

When they find an AR-15, the suspected murder weapon, missing from their storage, Gannon is instructed to interrogate all of his fellow members and find the culprit to turn into the police.

And as the interrogations go by, there are more reports of attacks on police officers throughout the country, so it makes their isolated problem look like it’s part of a larger conspiracy.

It sounds interesting when you put it on paper, but the movie is surprisingly boring.

Badge Dale does a good job of portraying Gannon, who was the best interrogator on the force, by approaching each interview with cunning wit and convincing methods. But some of the writing feels lazy, especially when he interrogates Morris (Happy Anderson).

Also, the cinematography is so dark it’s hard to see any details, from a person’s face to their surroundings. For a tense movie in which seeing an accused’s face adds another element to the acting and the atmosphere, it’s disappointing.

Making his directorial debut, Henry Dunham was able to draw great performances from each of the actors, especially Robert Aramayo, who plays the silent 23-year-old Keating. But while he achieves some tension in this gritty drama, it’s all for naught when there’s very little character development to draw extreme emotions from audiences. Each character holds a big secret, and when those secrets are revealed it’s anticlimactic.

The film has so much potential, but it’s a shame that it all falls flat.

‘The Standoff at Sparrow Creek’


RLJE Films presents a film written and directed by Henry Dunham. No MPAA rating. Running time: 88 minutes. Opens Friday at AMC Woodridge in Woodridge and on demand.