We have a sleeper hit in the running for action blockbuster of the summer. It's all found footage, raw pathos, and 100 percent Canadian content—with a sweeping soundtrack to boot. I'll be surprised if it doesn't clean up at TIFF this year.
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It all starts with an ordinary man at his ordinary job. He's running down the clock working the graveyard shift at a Calgary corner store, just trying to make ends meet in this bum/roaring economy like the rest of us. But when two masked jabronis show up with a pickaxe looking to steal cigarettes and scratch tickets, this ordinary clerk transforms into an extraordinary hero.
Handling an armed robbery is way out of his pay grade but he has been busting his balls trying to make an honest living while these Harry and Marv wannabes are trying to rip him off. He is not going to take it anymore. Not today, Satan.
The crook with the pickaxe tries to back the clerk into a corner while his partner starts stealing smokes, but our hero's reflexes are lightning quick. He wrestles the pickaxe out of his captor's hands and uses it to pin him down and rip the robber's mask off. The second thief stops looting and pulls out what looks like a pistol before she (thankfully) loses the nerve to use it. She then tries to mace him but the bottle isn't working. She finally produces a tire iron from the duffel bag and starts wailing on the clerk while her partner is still struggling to get out from behind the pickaxe.
But the righteous fury of the working man has made our hero unstoppable. With his free hand he grabs the tire iron and manages to wrestle the second thief to a standstill, until she rolls up onto the counter and starts kicking the clerk in the head. Undeterred, he manages to push her to the floor and get the tire iron out of her hands as he steps over her to make his way to the exit. He's still in a tug of war with the first guy over the pickaxe when the second thief picks up a big glass bong and threatens to bean him him with.
Our hero realizes there is no way he can win a two-way fight, so he lets go of the axe and makes a run for it out the front door. He locks the door from the outside and starts stacking a bench and a shelf full of window-washer and antifreeze bottles directly in front of it.
While he's out there, the two thieves get their bearings and just start ransacking the place. They are stealing smokes and lighters and energy shots and scratch-tickets and bongs, unaware the whole time that they have been trapped inside the store—until they go to leave and can't push open the door.
Some civilian passer-by has stopped to help our hero keep the bench pressed up against the door as the two thieves keep trying to force it open. When it doesn't budge again, they throw a bong through the glass and break the rest with the pickaxe. Things are poised for a dramatic climax.
Knowing that this is his last stand before thieves overrun his precious corner store, our hero and his friend pick start picking up bottles of fluid, ready to pelt them at the crooks. There is a tense moment while both parties prepare for the final assault. In a final show of force, the guy with the pickaxe swings it into a display case of Zippos and pulls them down all over the floor. This is it.
The music shifts dramatically as everyone starts throwing shit at each other. The guy with the pickaxe gets clocked repeatedly with jugs of antifreeze while his partner is darting back and forth clearing the broken glass out of the door panes. The clerk and his sidekick are just lobbing everything they've got back into the store. The two thieves finally start squeezing out the broken door as the clerk his whaling on them with another jug of antifreeze, and then he chases them off camera.
We jump forward past ten minutes of tape, and the cops are parked out front. For full effect, the scene lingers over the storefront wreckage, broken glass glimmering in this flashing police lights under the heavy crash of an electric piano. We learn in the CBC epilogue that the pickaxe guy—Arthur Gordon Bennie, 35—was arrested at the scene, held down by the clerk and his Good Samaritan sidekick. His partner in crime, Natalie Cory-Lyn Elaschuk, was arrested shortly after.
The film is a true tour de force. Anyone ever forced to spend years wiling away the late-night hours working minimum wage will recognize it instantly as a new classic of proletkult cinema and see their own struggle for dignity against the assholes of the world vindicated.
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