Ad exec Paoletti’s debut thriller stars the perfect vigilante: a Navy SEAL turned Hollywood special-effects technician.
Even if he is the nephew of Loki Productions president Gary Stanford, explosives rigger Ned Brandenburg is a menace whose careless work is endangering everyone involved in making Bringing Them Back, and it’s no wonder that effects supervisor David Cole tosses him off the set. But Dave has no idea how costly his gesture will be. Stanford isn’t just somebody’s uncle; he’s a connected guy who set up Loki Productions to launder mob money. Averse to pressure from subordinates, he hires Frank Ruger, another SEAL who’s cherished a special grudge against Dave ever since their tour in Iraq, to teach him a horrifying lesson. Somehow Dave escapes the scene of his planned demise and, sought by the police for murder, goes into hiding, plotting revenge on the men responsible. The bones of the plot are familiar from innumerable genre films from D.O.A. and Death Wish to the Rambo franchise. What Paoletti adds to the requisite talent for staging inventive action sequences is an exquisite sensitivity to physical pain and something of Elmore Leonard’s gift for cutting out the parts everybody skips anyway. The formula allows limited suspense—practically all of the cast will die—but the author handles the timeworn plot with complete conviction.
Pedestrian prose and razor-sharp focus strongly suggest that this project was conceived as a movie, and it won’t be happy till it becomes one.