Jason Sudeikis is probably best known for his comic turns in films such as Horrible Bosses, We’re the Millers and of course his Emmy award winning turn in Ted Lasso but South of Heaven gives him a chance to prove his dramatic acting chops. Jimmy (Sudeikis), currently serving time for armed robbery, starts the film addressing his parole board ditching his prepared speech instead telling them that his long time girlfriend Annie (Evangeline Lilly) has lung cancer with less than a year to live and wants to be with her with whatever time she has left. He gets it and is released where a bleach blonde pixie cropped Annie looking more like she been through a hair salon than been through chemotherapy. But that she has waited for him for so many years is a mark of how much she is in love with him whereas convicts girlfriends keeping themselves chaste seems to have as much credibility as an X-Factor five album record contract
Their first night together is not some torrid rough and tumble but rather a tender and sweet moment as they chat sitting on the edge of the bed about their limited future together. Keen to make the best of the time they have left Jimmy has to contend with a his parole officer Schmidt (Shea Whigham) is a duplicitous and odious little man wielding with relish his power to send him back to prison yet hiding behind that same power to blackmail Jimmy into running an errand for him delivering a package to some murderous Mexican drug dealers. A simple ‘in & out job’ goes bent when Jimmy has a traffic accident hitting a motorcyclist killing him instantly and putting him at risk of returning to the Big House. He calls in his friend Honest Frank to dispose of the body but it soon becomes clear that the motorcyclist was running money for another drug baron Whit Price– kind of makes you wonder if there’s any other business in this town that isn’t drug running – and it’s this drug baron, a softly spoken yet calculatingly cold killer, who believes Jimmy and Frank have the money and wants it back. What follows is a typically game of brinkmanship between Jimmy and Whit that involves Annie and Tommy, Whit’s precocious school boy son that escalates with the stakes ever higher.
South of Heaven is jam packed with decent performances Sudeikis is very good in an all too rare dramatic straight role, Shea Whigham as the odiously duplicitous parole officer is a treat and Mike Colter as the vengeful drug baron is in fine form. Added to this is a rare outing of 80’s B-movie action star Michael Pare as one of Whit’s hardcore heavies and is effective and convincing in the role. Added to this is a star making role from Thaddeus J Mixson as the potty mouthed wise ass schoolboy. South of Heaven has several highly effective scenes and plot twists but at two hours it needs tightening up to turn a decent thriller into a great thriller with a doomed love story at its centre
We spoke to Evangeline about the making of the film plus a bit about Marvel and Ant Man (here she is at the UK Premiere)…….
Here’s the South Of Heaven trailer…..