I admire filmmakers.
Seriously, I do. It's why I started The Independent Critic. I admire indie filmmakers and have a passion for giving their films the attention they deserve.
I admire up-and-comers. I admire vets. I admire those who make filmmaking a career no matter what it takes. I also admire those who consider it a hobby.
The Watchman's Edict is the most difficult type of indie film to review, not simply because it doesn't quite rise to the level of quality that would typically warrant a professional review but because it's so incredibly obvious that writer/director Bryan Boykins has a passion for filmmaking and has given it his all with this 70-minute political thriller starring Troy D. Williams as an investigative reporter who discovers a government conspiracy and who spends a good majority of the film's 70 minutes on the run from Secret Service agents determined to stop him from revealing it.
There's a decent, if incredibly familiar, idea bubbling underneath the surface of The Watchman's Edict, though it's a film that you know, literally from its opening minutes, that you're in for a no-budget, zero production value effort with lots of heart but little else.
Fortunately, Troy D. Williams is the film's highlight. With a charismatic screen presence and a conviction that tries hard to sell this material, Williams is clearly a gifted young actor even in a production that falls short of his talent. Others, including most of the bit players, may be talented but don't quite fare as well given the film's challenging production values.
The simple truth is that I don't see a lot of films like The Watchman's Edict, not because they're not made but because most often their filmmaker's would never have the boldness, some might call it misguided, to seek out public commentary on their film. Truthfully? I admire that confidence, which comes out in oodles via Boykins' solid website for the film, press package, and following of every submission guideline put forth.
You'd be amazed how often The Independent Critic receives a link to a film along with a "Hey, you should review my film!" and nothing else.
Um, no thanks.
There's solid effort in The Watchman's Edict and while it falls short there's no question I'd eagerly review Boykins' future efforts. While obligated to write a credible, honest review, The Independent Critic also respects and acknowledges a good faith effort along the way.
The Watchman's Edict is an ambitious film hindered by the usual production deficits of a muddy, inconsistent sound mix along with lensing that is often wobbly and inconsistent even as it's fairly fundamental. The performances range from promising, such as Williams, to simply godawful. The film's original score starts off rather overwhelming, occasionally dominating the film and other times weaving itself in rather competently to the rising drama.
But, there are promising signs here. There are scenes, especially in the film's latter half, where the lensing frame-up improves and performances settle down. There are scenes where the rising tension rises convincingly and to tremendous effect.
So, there are good things happening here and those experienced in watching indie, no-budget cinema will most appreciate the film.
Ultimately, The Watchman's Edict is a film that looks and feels like the no-budget, indie effort that it is. At times, the film is difficult to watch and other times you can't help but respect and admire Boykins' effort with the production. While The Independent Critic dare not give the film a thumbs up, it's a promising enough effort that we'll eagerly await future efforts and, in particular, projects featuring Troy D. Williams.
For more information on The Watchman's Edict, visit the film's website linked to in the credits.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic