Takin’ the highway to the Charlie Zone.
Avery (Glen Gould, Older Than America) is a former boxer who has hit rock bottom, reduced to taking beatings in underground fight clubs. A family hires him to find their daughter Jan (Amanda Crew, Sex Drive), who has run away from home and has shacked up with a bunch of drug addicts. Avery gets her out of the crack house and they hit the road. That’s when he discovers this girl’s connections to the criminal underworld go deeper than he ever guessed.
First things first: There’s no character in Charlie Zone named Charlie Zone. The title comes from police lingo referring to the neighborhood where the crack house is located.
With that out of the way, know that this is more of a drug addiction drama than it is an action thriller. There are a lot of shock value scenes with people shooting up and getting high, and the overall skeezy nature of life in the drug world. Once Avery gets Jan out of there, she sobers up a little, and we learn there’s a lot more to her character than just a victim. She shows a lot of intelligence, and has a real desire to get clean. This makes her a mirror of sorts for Avery, who is haunted by all the poor mistakes of his past.
Glen Gould goes the subtle route as Avery, keeping the character’s anger just beneath the surface. Late in the film, he reconnects with some folks from his past, and it’s at this point we get a glimpse of Avery’s underlying humanity. Amanda Crew has the more show-offy performance, as her character constantly transitions from tough to vulnerable to back again. Fortunately, Crew makes it so that it never seems inconsistent, but the portrayal of a young woman who has great potential but is over her head because of her self-destructive ways.
Character development and interaction are good, but the plot lets these characters down. Like a lot of crime movies, this one piles on plot twist after plot twist after plot twist. Instead of increasing the stakes and upping action, the twists are to the movie’s detriment. As the criminal conspiracy after Jan goes deeper and deeper, the plot gets less and less believable. We also get more and more layers to Jan as she eventually reveals the real reason she wants to get clean, and it comes off like a convenience rather than an emotional payoff. Also, some characters get lost in the mix. The scumbag drug dealers are introduced as our antagonists, but the story leaves them behind in the latter half of the movie, so they’re written out of the film as a subplot.
No problems with the Blu-ray’s TrueHD 5.1 Surround audio or 1.78:1/1080p high def widescreen transfer. Expect lots of rich colors and natural flesh tones, as well as clean clear sound. There are no extras.
Charlie Zone (Blu-ray) is a mixed bag. The performances are fine, but the story is too complicated for its own good. See it if you’re curious, but it’s not worth a purchase.