The Eric Roberts Collection: Deadline (dir by Curt Hahn)

In the year 1993, a black teenager named Wallace Sampson was shot and murdered in the small town of Amos, Alabama.  The murderer was never caught.  In fact, according to most people in the town, the murder was never even really investigated.  The town’s white leaders, many of whom were members of the Ku Klux Klan, swept the murder under the rug.

20 years later, Trey Hall (Lauren Jenkins) is determined to solve Wallace’s murder.  Trey may be the daughter of the richest man in town but, as she puts it, she was practically raised by Wallace’s mother, Mary Pell Sampson (Jackie Welch).  Mary Pell Sampson is the long-time maid of Trey’s father, Everett Hall (David Dwyer).  When journalist Matt Harper (Steve Talley) comes down from Tennessee to do a story on another murder, Trey tells him that he should totally ditch the recent murder and instead investigate the older murder.  Matt, who is currently in the process of being cancelled due to a poorly written headline, decides that he wants to investigate and report on the death of Wallace Sampson.  His editor agrees, on the condition that he work with the older and more cynical Ronnie Bullock (Eric Roberts).

While investigating Wallace’s murder, Matt has to deal with his own very messy personal life.  His fiancée, Delana (Anna Felix), wants to call off the wedding because Matt is too obsessed with work.  His father (J.D. Souther) is dying of cancer but can still find the time to scold Matt for ending a sentence with a preposition.  Finally, Matt is not happy about having work with Ronnie, who is an old school reporter who travels with a gun and who has little use for the demands of society.  When Matt accuses Ronnie of being racist, Ronnie angrily corrects him.  When Matt accuses Ronnie of being sexist, Ronnie just shrugs.  It’s really the type of thing that only Eric Roberts could pull off.

Deadline is loosely based on a true story and it’s certainly a well-intentioned film.  Unfortunately, the majority of the performances feel amateurish, the pace is rather slow, and the bad guys are so obviously evil that the film itself feels a bit cartoonish.  (If only all murderers were as easy to pick out as they are in this film….)  It suffers from the same problem that afflicts a lot of films about civil rights in the South, in that the black characters are often pushed to the background and left undeveloped while the film focuses on the nobility of rich white liberals.  Again, the intentions are good but the execution leaves a bit to be desired.

That said, Eric Roberts is well-cast as Ronnie Bullock and, whenever he’s onscreen, he brings some much-needed energy to the film.  In some ways, Ronnie is a cliché.  He’s the cynical, politically incorrect journalist who, deep down, still believes in doing the right thing.  But Roberts manages to bring some nuance to both the character and the film.  The viewer will be happy every time that Roberts steps into a scene.  Eric Roberts’s performance is the highlight of the film and the best reason to see Deadline.

Previous Eric Roberts Films That We Have Reviewed:

  1. Star 80 (1983)
  2. Blood Red (1989)
  3. The Ambulance (1990)
  4. The Lost Capone (1990)
  5. Love, Cheat, & Steal (1993)
  6. Love Is A Gun (1994)
  7. Sensation (1994)
  8. Doctor Who (1996)
  9. Most Wanted (1997)
  10. Mr. Brightside (2004)
  11. Six: The Mark Unleased (2004)
  12. Hey You (2006)
  13. In The Blink of an Eye (2009)
  14. The Expendables (2010) 
  15. Sharktopus (2010)
  16. Miss Atomic Bomb (2012)
  17. Lovelace (2013)
  18. Self-Storage (2013)
  19. Inherent Vice (2014)
  20. Rumors of War (2014)
  21. A Fatal Obsession (2015)
  22. Stalked By My Doctor (2015)
  23. Stalked By My Doctor: The Return (2016)
  24. The Wrong Roommate (2016)
  25. Stalked By My Doctor: Patient’s Revenge (2018)
  26. Monster Island (2019)
  27. Seven Deadly Sins (2019)
  28. Stalked By My Doctor: A Sleepwalker’s Nightmare (2019)
  29. The Wrong Mommy (2019)
  30. Her Deadly Groom (2020)
  31. Top Gunner (2020)
  32. Just What The Doctor Ordered (2021)
  33. Killer Advice (2021)
  34. The Poltergeist Diaries (2021)
  35. My Dinner With Eric (2022)

One response to “The Eric Roberts Collection: Deadline (dir by Curt Hahn)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 1/2/23 — 1/8/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

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