Shea Whigham definitely has what it takes to be a leading man, despite making a career out of being an ensemble player. He deserves better than "The Gateway," a film that is squarely a B-movie, but not in a nostalgic or fun sort of way.
Parker (Whigham) is a social worker who has dedicated his life to helping others, since he can't quite help himself. He looks after certain children and parents wrapped up in all sorts of bad situations. One such mom is Dahlia (Olivia Munn) and things become complicated the day that her estranged partner Mike (Zach Avery) is released from prison. Mike jumps right back to a life of crime, under the wing of an over-the-top criminal warlord known as Duke (Frank Grillo), and Parker winds up in the middle of things.
The film takes place in St. Louis, the "Gateway to the West" as it's known (thus the film's title), even though it was shot entirely in Virginia. It's that sort of empty inauthenticity that makes "The Gateway" a real slog to sit through. Despite Whigham and the strong cast around him, the story never really takes off or becomes all that interesting, and it doesn't earn many of the payoffs it arrives at.
"The Gateway" might be a good movie to catch on cable, or watch in the background while you fold clothes. Let's applaud the fact that Shea Whigham was cast as a leading man, and stay optimistic that he'll be given better material to work with in the future.
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller.
Run Time: 1 hour 31 minutes.
Starring: Shea Whigham, Olivia Munn, Bruce Dern, Frank Grillo, Taryn Manning, Keith David, Mark Boone Junior, Zach Avery.
Co-Written & Directed by Michele Civetta ("Agony").
"The Gateway" is in theaters on Friday, September 3rd, 2021.
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