Stephen Whitty

Columnist, critic for national and international outlets. Author, lecturer, host.

Apr 27, 2021
1 min read

Sean Kenealy and Eric Silvera wanted to make an action movie in the worst way, and they did.

No money for a cast of thousands? How about a cast of two. Low-budget? Closer to no budget, with the results of the team’s $20,000 Kickstarter campaign stretched to cover everything, from dubious on-screen talent to some not-so-special effects.

The result is actually better, and a lot funnier, than it sounds.

The purposefully cheaper-than-dirt In Action stars the two – who also co-directed, and co-wrote – as contentious, one-time screenwriting partners. Giving collaboration one more shot, they start working on a new, action-movie script about a terrorist attack on a White House wedding.

But then someone, somewhere, sees their notes and gets suspicious of exactly what the two are up to. And Kenealy and Silvera wake up in a basement dungeon, tied to chairs and facing torture. Or worse.

Facing a penniless production starring two amateur actors, a cautious audience might be dreading some excruciating pain of their own, too. But Kenealy and Silvera have a genuine, onscreen rapport. And until their opposites-attract shtick wears thin – Kenealy’s fey oversensitivity vs. Silvera’s foul-mouthed obnoxiousness – they’re pretty funny.

The movie is, too, when it dares to embrace its own poverty.

It doesn’t always. Scenes at a wedding or in a bar that should feature a crowd of extras, and make do with a couple of close shots of our heroes standing by a wall, just feel like the cheap fakery they are. Alternatively, briefly ignoring the cast-of-two concept to bring on faceless (and dubbed) extras seems like a cheat.

But whenever the movie accepts its own laws and limitations, there’s genuine inventiveness here, utilizing minimalist sets, subjective camerawork and even animation. And a dramatic “car chase” – for which the budget apparently couldn’t afford more than a couple of car seats, surrounded by a black curtain – has the kind of joyful, shameless, oh-what-the-hell approach that would astound even Ed Wood.

Even at 79 minutes, the film sometimes drags, and often misfires. Particularly painful are Silvera’s scatological monologues, and the duo’s conviction that, if a line isn’t funny, repeating it several times, increasingly louder, can make it so. But the pair seems like genuine friends, their sub-Clerks pop-culture banter feels real, and their imaginations are certainly unbound.

If they can make a film like this for movie-mogul pocket change, imagine what they could make if someone gave them a real budget. I’m sure they’re imagining that themselves, right now.

I am, too. Although, honestly, I doubt it would be quite as good.

4 stars (out of 5)