Hawaiian director Kyle Kauwika Harris is a Choctaw tribal member and all the honor that it holds. With more Native filmmakers coming out of the Indigenous tapestry, it is humbling to see his work play out in the public realm. So before I write anything else, kudos, Kyle, for making art will that be seen for many years to come.
Last week, I checked out his latest movie, the straight-to-DVD straight-to-streaming actioner Out of Exile. Although I don't think its name will be called this upcoming award-season, it's a solid low-budget film-making effort featuring a nice cast and some fun-to-see Oklahoma realism!
Looking for an easy dollar with his semi-terroristic set of skills, he teams with some more-or-less shady guys, robbing an anonymous office building.
Of course, there is a shot fired against the armed guards—and the gunman is Gabe’s unstable brother, Wesley (Kyle Jacob Henry).
Called to investigate the shooting, we meet the Sunday school-lite Agent Solomon (Ryan Merriman). Using that trademarked Okie charm, he “aw-shucks” his way to investigate the whole matter, working in one badly lit office.
As his Texas Ranger friend tells him, “this isn’t your daddy’s bureau.” I hope not!
For most of the movie, Gabe tries to solve his dirtbag family’s problems and get his former girlfriend out of his abusive lover’s thumb. But when the Feds try to finger him in the murder, somehow, this becomes a homespun heist movie, with a climactic shootout at Frontier State Bank, 5100 S. I-35 Service Rd., in case you are interested.
While you try to empathize with Gabe’s inner turmoil, it becomes a pretty engaging movie, with Hampton feeling the tortuous stress clawing at him and all the total jerks he has to overcome; every character he interacts with, of course, is almost a series of dumb Okie criminals, and some really bad ones too!
Also, the OKC location manager definitely earned their paycheck on this film.
With places like Sunnyside Diner, Rodeo Cinema (with pro-wrester Jake Roberts!), the Flamingo Apartments, Classen Inn, Classics Bar and Grill, and, of course, the notorious Red Dog, it’s a wonderous travelogue of the best of the worst OKC has to offer!
Even with the semi-low budget, Out of Exile is a good renter on Saturday night, with Hampton nailing a real star-making role; I look forward to the next project Harris on the table, and more trashy Oklahoman realism on full display.