Shrapnel, starring Jason Patric suffers from a stock, overused storyline that is only saved by Patric himself. Director William Kaufman takes a basic missing child story and, along with Patric, creates a decent if not a bit slow and predictable, tale of a father’s determination to find his daughter. While it could be better, Shrapnel does touch on timely and relevant themes of child abduction and border safety.
The story begins with a father locating his missing daughter’s car in an impound lot. He alerts the Mexican police, but they deny that the vehicle (now mysteriously missing) even exists and tell him to go home. Patric plays Sean, a man from Texas who grows increasingly concerned about his older daughter, Leigh (Teresa Decher), who, along with a friend, goes missing while traveling across the border to Mexico. An ex-Marine trying to maintain a peaceful way of life for his wife Kesia (Susan Beckwith) and two daughters, he is at his wit’s end and takes matters into his own hands. His youngest daughter, Lauren (Emily Perry), blames him for not protecting her sister, making Sean even more determined to rescue his daughter.
Notably, Patric shines in his expressions and reactions, which are so realistic to a man in Sean’s predicament and of Sean’s caliber. Even as the story feels too familiar, Patric gives us a dynamic and relatable – a father who will stop at nothing to find his child. In a short time, Sean finds trouble and threats at his own door, and to save his wife and younger daughter, he draws the men away from them and singlehandedly take them out. He enlists a fellow ex-Marine Max (Cam Gigandet), and the pair take the fight back into Mexico and to the home of the cartel leader who has the missing girls. Kaufman does not scrimp on the gunfire, violence, and bloodletting – to be punny; it’s overkill. However, the story is all too familiar, even with the exciting shootouts and car chases. We’ve seen it all before.
Shrapnel, rightly rated R, does serve up a bit of excitement, and Patric is the ideal pick for Sean, but ultimately, it falls flat in its story. It plays out far too predictably and is monotonal in feel and lacking in substance. Still, I can rave about Jason Patric. He makes the film watchable. If I were to score just his performance, the rating would be higher, but I can only put two stars up top for this below-average telling of an old tale.