September 12, 2021
19.98 DVD, $21.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence, pervasive language, drug use, some sexual content and nudity.
Stars Shea Whigham, Olivia Munn, Taryn Manning, Mark Boone Junior, Taegen Burns, Frank Grillo, Bruce Dern.
The crime drama The Gateway offers a strong cast and the seeds of tackling a relevant social issue, but ends up muddling its focus by swerving into the realm of the action thriller.
The always welcome Shea Whigham — the go-to character actor for gruff, hard-edged personalities — stars as Parker, a heavy-drinking, drug-addicted social worker trying to maintain his sanity at work while keeping an eye on kids whose parents have crossed the law one too many times.
He takes a special interest in Ashley (Taegen Burns), whose father is in prison and whose mother (Olivia Munn) works at a local casino trying to make ends meet, often neglecting to remember to take her daughter to school.
Soon enough, though, Daddy’s out on parole, beating up his baby momma and involved in a drug ring led by a crime boss played by Frank Grillo. Parker is resolved to protect Ashley no matter the cost, even as he’s ordered to leave the family alone.
The movie tries to shed some light on the grim realities of the foster care system, with Parker trying atone for his own troubled upbringing and shady past by trying to find a kid to do right by who isn’t a hopeless cause. But the drug gang subplot that ends up taking over the movie is mostly generic crime thriller stuff.
Still, Whigham makes for a compelling screen presence, and Munn turns in some good work as the put-upon mother whose loyalties are twisted by circumstance.
The Blu-ray contains the film’s trailer and a single four-minute featurette called “Living Legends: The Cast of The Gateway” in which the filmmakers and cast discuss making the film.