Director Brett Bentman returns to the director’s chair with his Texas-based thriller Copper Bill, a film that once again stars a professional wrestler, only this time, it is current AEW superstar Dustin Rhodes. On paper, Copper Bill sounds like an interesting story with a lot of promise, and the film has a lot of promising moments and ideas, but unfortunately, Bentman’s film falls short in a lot of ways.
The film tells the story of two thieves, Jessup Cross (Thom Hallum) and Mitchell White (Dustin Rhodes), who attempt to steal 80 million dollars in Texas drug money from a ranch belonging to a dead member of the Cowboy Mafia. However, in their attempt to find the money, Cross and White come across Lilly (Katy Harris), the heir to the ranch, and unfortunately for the two thieves, Lilly is a mute who cannot tell them where the money is.
Copper Bill starts by showing Mitchell White killing an animal he later cooks, and Cross playing poker in a dark room. The two later meet to discuss Cross’ over thirty thousand dollar debt to White’s boss ‘The Indian’, and then Cross begins to plant the seeds for the robbery. The opening scenes look very good, and the acting is strong early on, so you’re curious to see what’s in store for them when the heist begins. Sadly, the heist starts rather quickly, and the film then begins to fall apart.
One of the big problems the film has, especially when compared to Bentman’s 90 Feet From Home, is you really have no connection to the characters because we know next to nothing about them. We know very little about White, aside from the fact he has a weird, unexplained obsession with telling Cross to stay off his phone. Cross is not great with money and has a debt to pay, and Lilly is a mute who is trapped. Before we know it, the action is underway, and instead of being invested or rooting for a certain character, you’re simply watching a series of events without any emotional connection. It’s a far cry to how well Bentman set up 90 Feet From Home, where we knew so much about the characters on an emotional level, and we knew what their motivations were.
The pacing of the film is also a problem, as it never seems to kick into a higher gear, lacking any real urgency. Despite the characters telling you they need the money and they are running out of time, the film’s pace and even the rather relaxed demeanour of Cross make it hard to believe that there is a genuine threat coming. In addition to this, the plot twists fall flat as well. Nothing takes you off your seat; it’s just one action after another.
Copper Bill also feels like it has somewhat of an identity crisis, as at times it feels like it wants to be more grounded and realistic, but the next moment a human finger is waved around by one of the characters in a rather cartoony fashion. Also, the insertion of comedy fails miserably. Not only do the jokes not land, they feel out of place because of the serious tone, and this primarily comes from Billy Blair’s character Brady, who irritates as opposed to entertaining you.
As far as performances go, Thom Hallum proves to be the most consistent and engaging, but due to the awkward nature in which his character changes, there are times when his performance level drops. Dustin Rhodes shows some promise, although he does try a little too hard at times. Shawn Michaels’ performance was a hard act to follow, and Dustin cannot quite match the level set by Michaels in 90 Feet.
Overall, Copper Bill is a project with a lot of good ideas that has failed in its execution. There was a lot put into this over one hour and twenty-two-minute film, but the focus in developing characters and a narrative that draws you in and makes you care seemed to fall by the wayside. You enter the film with questions, and in the end, you’re still left puzzled and have far more questions than answers.
Dir: Brett Bentman
Scr: Brett Bentman
Cast: Thom Hallum, Dustin Rhodes, Katy Harris, Arthur RedCloud, Billy Blair
Prd: Tiffany McDonald
DoP: Anthony Gutierrez
Runtime: 125 minutes
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