Mexican standoffs are a surprisingly underused dramatic technique, or, to be more specific: prolonged Mexican standoffs. Technically any scene in which a victim is held hostage or someone is used as a shield could be described as a Mexican standoff, but few films spring to mind that feature prolonged Mexican standoffs as a source of increasing dramatic tension. While they might not have the literal momentum of a high-speed chase, there is something almost Shakespearean about their possibilities for denouements, betrayals, searingly desperate monologues, and the heightening of tension on a stage or in a film with limited locations.
Feedback takes the Mexican standoff to a new level, or at least to a similar level as Howard Hawks’ masterpiece Rio Bravo (1959) or the memorable standoffs in the earless blood-pool warehouse of Reservoir Dogs (1992) and the cramped basement bar with no existential exit of Inglorious Bastards (2009). Feedback excels both in its opaque writing and in the performance of Eddie Marsen, a conniving yet clever talk show host whose precise involvement in a terrifying incident is never entirely made clear–which is odd since the entire film is spent grilling him about it on air; however, this is also why the film should leave you perched on the edge of your seat, debating whether to root for the character or not, depending on whether you believe he’s being held hostage by psychopaths or gaslighting the past to preserve his own pasty skin.
Today is May 14th, 2020, and Feedback (2019), is currently streaming on various VOD services.