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Little Dixie


‘…this is the kind of tough-guy morality play that we don’t see enough of these days, and its downbeat attitude feels like a dour but appropriate response to today’s world gone mad…’

My regular reader will know that I’m all in when it comes to Frank Grillo; I’ll watch this man in just about anything, and frequently do. In an age of snowflakes and virtue signalling, Grillo is something of a throwback star in the grand tradition; he looks as tough as Chuck Norris, but unlike Norris, Grillo is a natural performer who has real acting chops, now hitting 100 credits listed on imdb and undoubtedly the kind of Charles Bronson we need right now.

Writer/director John Swab’s violent thriller also feels like a throwback to the hard crime dramas of the early 70’s; in movies like this, there’s nothing wrong with shooting if the right people get shot, as Dirty Harry used to say, and Little Dixie makes sure we’re in no doubt that the scumbags featured here deserve to take a few to their domes. Grillo plays Doc Alexander, ex-special forces, now a tough guy in a tougher situation. Oklahoma governor Richard Jeffs (Eric Dane) has an increasing reputation as a hard-line figure, but his prominence is built on sand; his campaign was largely funded on illegal contributions from drug cartels, and they expect to control his actions as a result. That delicate balance gets shot to hell when the brother of cartel boss Prado is electrocuted by the government, and Doc’s daughter aka Little Dixie is kidnapped by the scuzzy-AF Cuco (an intense Beau Knapp). But kidnapping Little Dixie is the last straw for Doc, who starts cleaning up the game and playing to win….

Landing somewhere between such red meat as Milan Calibre 9 and City of Industry, Swab’s cold, nasty thriller is drenched in dog-eat dog morality; ‘Never tell someone that you look up to them; if you do they’ll spend the lifetime looking down on you,’ is a typical bit of advice, and Swab isn’t afraid to focus on a death rattle scream in a burning car or a chainsaw dismemberment in a bathtub; and that’s just what the good guys are up to. This film is set at Christmas, with decorations visible in many shots, but this proves the rule that films set at Christmas are not Christmas movies; there’s absolutely nothing festive about the busts of blood-letting featured here.

Little Dixie isn’t quite a consistent gem; there’s too many killings for credibility, even for a cartel dispute, and some of the action could use a little less video-game headshot ease. But there’s a healthy, eclectic supporting cast (Annabelle Gish from Beautiful Girls, Peter Greene aka Zed from Pulp Fiction) to an unexpected musical number and a reference or two to Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia. Some perfunctory dialogue aside, this is the kind of tough-guy morality play that we don’t see enough of these days, and its downbeat attitude feels like a dour but appropriate response to today’s world gone mad.

Little Dixie is in select theaters, on digital, and on demand from February 3, 2023

Thanks to Paramount for screener access.


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    • I’ll add it to my groaning pile of Grillo. Just needs that career defining role, his Taken, his John Wick.

    • Sigh. No Velma in the UK, we have high standards when it comes to Scooby Doo spin-offs.

      Scarface surely didn’t invent the chainsaw, there are many other chainsaw killing movies. Grillo knows how to handle one.

      • Didn’t realize the UK was so far behind the times. Well at least you have The Aristocats. Or Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist. Or pictures of your library whenever the sun finally comes out in Strathclyde.

        Was there a chainsaw used by a drug cartel before Scarface? I thought that was pretty shocking at the time.

        • I personally use them for any disagreement, really changes the mood music in the room, I find.

          Bit cloudy today for library pics.

          Didn’t realise Velma was a Mindy Kaling joint. Am still finishing Mindy Project, so at least my Velma will be well informed when it comes.

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