Unceremoniously pushed from a proper theatrical release, Stretch is the latest film by director Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces, The Grey). Why Universal bumped it from its original March 2014 date is anyone’s guess, but it is now available on Netflix streaming at the press of a button. (Hooray!)
The short version is that Stretch is about…”Stretch,” a hopeless limo driver who experiences the worst that Los Angeles has to offer. With barely a second to breath, Stretch gets caught up in series abruptly violent circumstances ignited by his old gambling addiction. Haunted by the ghost of a fellow limo driver that blew his brains out, Stretch struggles to find a straight path through the drug-addled L.A. nightlife.
Since we maintain a bottomless appetite for action films here at AAGG, we practically jumped at the chance to check this film out. The verdict: Stretch is Action A Go Go approved. But since we know you’re not going to just take our word for it we’re going to entice you with 5 simple reasons…
1. One of Carnahan’s best.
Director Joe Carnahan is kind of a rare breed in this age of PG-13 supermen (not that there is anything wrong with that). A “hard R” director, Carnahan’s movies come alive thanks to his unique penchant for dizzying action. Like with Smokin’ Aces and the surprisingly entertaining A-Team (which wasPG-13, mind you), Carnahan makes cartoon violence acceptable without causing the film to lose its edge.
2. Cameos galore.
Without spoiling anything, many well-known actors appear in this one, some of which are unrecognizable. Most notable is Star Trek‘s Chris Pine, who serves as Stretch’s unruly passenger throughout this night of hell.
3. It is an action-crime film set around Hollywood.
If you grew up on action films in the late ’80s through the ’90s then you’ll recall how many films in the action and crime genres were located in and around Los Angeles (Lethal Weapon, Falling Down, Go, Last Boy Scout, Reservoir Dogs, etc.). Stretch brings back that amusingly self-absorbed tradition by using the City of Angels as a backdrop. I can only assume that it was because it was cheaper than shooting elsewhere, but it is also the simplest way to have our hero encounter as many sociopaths as possible in one night.
4. Patrick Wilson leads the charge.
It took me a second but I’ve been a fan of Patrick Wilson ever since I made the connection that Nightowl from Watchmen and the pedophille from Hard Candy were the same actor. The affable Wilson is long overdue for a leading man role in something like this. It’s just too bad that theater audiences didn’t get a chance to discover that first.
5. It’s upbeat.
“Neeson season” has become a bit of a double-edged sword. While it has caused a notable resurgence in Hollywood guy movies it has also been exclusively “grim-dark.” As much as I dig tough guys being tough, sometimes you want something light but action-packed (and without superheroes). Stretch fits that bill perfectly by being as frenzied as it is silly. It is a return to roots for the director but a welcome break from this fall season’s bottomless line-up of “man pain.”
Watch it now on Netflix Instant.
Troy-Jeffrey Allen writes about action/adventure for Action A Go Go. He is a comic book writer whose works include BamnComics.com, The Magic Bullet, Dr. Dremo’s Taphouse of Tall Tales, and the Harvey Award nominated District Comics. In addition, Allen has been a contributing writer for ComicBookBin.com, OfNote Magazine, and ForcesOfGeek.com. His work has been featured in the City Paper, The Baltimore Sun, Bethesda Magazine, The Examiner, and The Washington Post. Yes, he wrote this bio.