In “Charlie Countryman,” Shia LaBeouf flies to Romania at the urging of his mother’s ghost after she dies in a Chicago hospital.
On the flight, he hits it off with Victor, who dies in his sleep hours later. His spirit asks Charlie to deliver a gift he purchased for his daughter, Gabriela.
At the airport, Charlie meets Gabriela (Evan Rachel Wood), and he’s immediately drawn to her. They go their separate ways, but through a couple of chance meetings, he falls in love with her.
Charlie soon meets Gabi’s ex-husband, Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen), who turns out to be the one sadistic hurdle to the girl of his dreams. “Charlie Countryman” leads viewers through his crusade to reach her.
One warning: This movie is not for everyone. There are a lot of brutal fisticuffs and one kind of gross hostage situation, but director Fredrik Bond weaves in the love story well with light touches of humor and music.
Hostel roommates Karl (Rupert Grint) and Luc (James Buckley) aid the levity. And a colorfully psychedelic high-on-ecstasy scene and a ridiculous altercation at a gentlemen’s club don’t hurt.
One solid pro to this film: Powerhouse performances all around.
Actress Wood expertly plays hard exterior with a wealth of emotion beneath — and props on a convincing Romanian accent. LaBeouf does vulnerable, eager and uneasily heroic like a champ, and I swear Mikkelsen (of NBC’s “Hannibal”) was made to portray villains with nuance and precision. And while this film was jam-packed with violence and action, I still wanted to see more of supporting players Melissa Leo, Vincent D’Onofrio and Aubrey Plaza.
One issue I had with film is the plot takes off at an almost melodramatic and unrealistic pace. Charlie’s been in Bucharest for two days, he’s inserted himself into a crime ring, he has a slew of henchmen chasing him, he’s getting knocked out left and right and he’s ready for more.
But that didn’t keep me from loving this movie.
“Charlie Countryman” sucked me in and held me with its story, its bright-on-gritty cinematography and its performances. I was completely engaged throughout, and when the closing credits scrolled up — like Charlie — I was ready for more.
It’s worth a watch.
Available: Amazon Prime, Netflix Instant.
IndieWatch is a weekly review of independent film and documentaries.