Michaels makes your stomach churn in some scenes, but his babyface turn was laid out (and executed) extremely well.
There are only a precious few performers in the history of pro wrestling as good as Shawn Michaels at evoking fear or sympathy, and Michaels elicits both of those emotions in his convincing portrayal of Jimmy Devine in the new 90 Feet From Home film.
Set to premiere this June in Los Angeles, 90 Feet From Home is equal parts dark and tense. Audiences will relate easily to the characters, who are fiercely loyal to one another despite complicating factors. With shades of Mystic River, the film is based on a true story: an abusive stepfather endlessly torments his stepson, destroying the boy’s childhood and permanently altering him as an adult.
Naturally, Michaels plays the villain, and does so in incredible fashion.
This is Michaels’ best moment on-screen since WrestleMania 26 against The Undertaker, and longtime wrestling fans will particularly enjoy watching a 53-year-old Michaels starring in a film also featuring Dean Cain and Eric Roberts.
“This story is not neat, tidy, and clean,” Michaels told SI.com in March. “It’s the closest to reality that I’ve ever had the chance to do, and is as complex and difficult as life.
“All of us carry something in our souls, and that something can be hard, at least for the individual. The question is how we respond to that which we carry.”
Director Brett Bentman crafted the film’s story in a twisting fashion that also forces the viewer to feel sympathy for Michaels, especially after he changes his ways and (see if this sounds familiar) becomes a born-again Christian.
Bentman’s vision was executed perfectly in 90 Feet From Home. In an interview in March, Bentman stressed that the key to the film’s success was Michaels’ ability to be genuine in his role as abusive drunk Jimmy Devine.
“Once we met Shawn, we didn’t want anybody else,” Bentman said. “Almost immediately, Shawn became our Jimmy Devine.”
Michaels makes your stomach churn in some scenes, but his babyface turn was laid out (and executed) extremely well. After watching the film, there is no doubt that the Jimmy Devine character is anything short of authentic.
Adam Hampton also shines as Scott Conway, and Heather Williams serves as the film’s backbone with her portrayal of family matriarch Emily Conway Devine.
There are plenty of false finishes before reaching the conclusion of the film. The movie ends on the perfect note, delivering a finish more complex than originally anticipated.
Even though the film is missing some “sweet chin music,” viewers will be delighted with Michaels’ range and execution in this gripping film.
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.