Rich Character Development Saves Formulaic Crime Drama


A recently paroled bank robber (Adam Hampton) plots one last score after a botched heist.

A recently paroled bank robber struggles with family problems and a dedicated lawman while planning one last big score. Out of Exile veers into formulaic territory and suffers somewhat from procedural clichés. But it surprises with rich character development and an earnest tone that raises the dramatic stakes. The film draws a slight comparison to Michael Mann’s classic Heat, where tight-knit bonds are tested by the ruthless nature of criminality. Friends and enemies blur as the need for escape clouds better judgment. The plot develops weight outside the requisite gunplay, leading to an engrossing experience that balances then overcomes its flaws.


The bearded and burly Gabriel Russell (Adam Hampton) checks in with his parole officer in Dallas, Texas. He’s found a steady job and stayed out of trouble after sixteen years in prison. Gabe’s stoic eyes hide the truth. He’s been up to old tricks knocking off armored cars with a new crew. Gabe recruits a trusted former accomplice, Marcos (Wilson Navas), and his drug-addicted, war veteran younger brother, Wes (Kyle Jacob Henry).

A Tragic Turn

Saban Films

A simple heist takes a tragic turn when Wes foolishly shoots a guard. FBI Agent Brett Solomon (Ryan Merriman) is assigned a task force to find the murderers. A furious Gabe knows that the erratic and unstable Wes has become a liability. But he needs to secure more money for his eventual goal. Gabe hopes to rekindle the relationship with his estranged daughter, Dawn (Hayley McFarland), whose mother died while he was locked up.

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Gabe’s fixer, crime boss Whitman Rader (Peter Greene), gets wind of a major opportunity. They have the chance to steal a half million dollars with little security. Gabe measures the risk versus the reward. Solomon is hot on their trail, but a job of this magnitude can set them all free.

Director/writer Kyle Kauwika Harris (I Stand: The Guardians of the Water) takes a methodical approach in his feature debut. He spends time exploring the felonious lineage that corrupted Gabe and Wes from birth. Their dying father (Van Quattro) introduced them to Rader and set a dark path for his children. Regrets ring hollow as his sons make the same mistakes he did. Gabe’s efforts to keep Wes out of trouble are complicated. He loves his brother and can’t have him as a loose end, but trusts Wes above all. It’s them against the world when the situation inevitably crumbles.

Stock Subplots

Out of Exile can be criticized for stock subplots. Gabe’s daughter has an abusive boyfriend that treats her like a punching bag. Scenes of her with black eyes and worse roils Gabe to comeuppance. The father who’s been gone her entire life becomes the white knight savior. This is predictably bad timing with a fortune looming and the feds circling like vultures. The same goes for Rader, who’s obviously a scumbag that can’t be trusted.

A bloody climax offers twists a plenty that aren’t unexpected. Reactions will vary depending on commitment to the primary characters. My opinion is that Harris established depth and purpose. The ending makes sense when all the various threads come together.

Out of Exile is a production of Through Films, Perm Machine, and Axtion Pictures. It will have a limited theatrical release and streaming debut on January 20th from Paramount Pictures and Saban Films.

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