“Rhino” is an immense departure from director Patrick Rea’s norms in the film world. Typically Rea is more prone to delivering more darkly comic or horrific films that are often quite excellent. So it’s rather jarring to see Mr. Rea tackle what is possibly one of the best crime dramas I’ve seen in recent memory.
“Rhino” is only forty four minutes in length, but it really doesn’t require anything more than forty four minutes because it’s completely void of padding or meandering sub-plots. It’s a straight to the point and swiftly paced crime drama about the vicious cycle of crime and what happens when someone gets so deep in violence they can’t possibly pull themselves out. Malcolm Goodwin is absolutely excellent as young Hank, an optimistic and friendly young man who gets in to a friendship with local restaurant owner Donny “Rhino” Rheinhardt. Hank is intent on becoming Rhino’s new ace seller for his best and most popular weed.
Rhino is a generally reserved and friendly man who has the business of selling down pat, relying on his days as a football player to help him coast by as a distributor of marijuana. But as Hank soon finds out, once Donny brings him closer is that the world Donny is involved with is never as cut and dry as Hank assumes it is, and discovers that Donny is anything but a reserved and mild mannered drug distributor. “Rhino” succeeds in being a rather taut and compelling crime drama with a script that literally soaks in the audiences attention with intense characterization and richly developed supporting characters. Hank is a very interesting and naive individual who basically finds himself in the same conundrum many people do and we can sense his urgency and anxiety when he realizes he may not be around too long to remain Donny’s go to guy.
Meanwhile Keith Loneker is memorable as the multi-layered Rhino who is a man on the verge of becoming a very threatening and powerful crime boss who is intent on basically doing anything it takes to dominate distribution of weed in his town. Loneker is often a scene stealer and really manages to add a lot of depth and charisma to a part as important as Rhino’s. “Rhino” is a film with a lot of twists and turns to it, with characters stabbing one another in the back to ensure their own survival and Hank learns a lesson he won’t soon forget when the film closes. “Rhino” is a masterful crime drama and one that deserves a wide audience. If you’re a fan of films like “Goodfellas” and “Casino,” then Patrick Rea’s short crime drama might be just the ticket for you. With dazzling performances from the entire cast, a superb screenplay and ace direction from Patrick Rea, “Rhino” is a crime drama soaking in tension and suspense and offers a lot of talent for open minded movie lovers.