Movie Review – D-Tox (2002)

Director: Jim Gillespie

Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Charles S. Dutton, Polly Walker, Kris Kristofferson, Mif, Christopher Fulford, Robert Patrick, Stephen Lang, Jeffrey Wright, Tom Berenger, Robert Prosky, Courtney B. Vance

Jake Malloy (Stallone) is a is a Federal agent on the hunt for a serial killer who targets cops. However, the killer also has a grudge against Malloy ever since he was almost caught by the agent in an investigation, so he targets people Malloy cares about, which sends Malloy into a downward spiral of drunkenness. He’s sent to a remote facility that focuses on detoxing people in law enforcement, but one by one people start dying and it’s clear that the serial killer has found his way into the facility.

When you see that this stars Stallone you might assume it’s a typical action-fest, but in fact it’s more of a subdued mystery thriller. I don’t think Stallone gets enough credit for his acting chops and here he plays a vulnerable man filled with rage and inconsolable anger. I liked his performance and the movie began well with the hunting of the serial killer.

However, it feels like two movies were smashed into one. They wanted to do a hunt for a serial killer, but they also wanted to do a film set in a closed-off rehab facility and the two settings didn’t quite gel. It’s a short movie and although there’s a recognisable cast, there’s not enough time to give the characters in the rehab center any kind of development other than the broadest characteristics. In fact, a lot of them are barely seen at all, and the only ones who are interesting are the ones who have strange tics in the place of actual personalities.

The mystery itself isn’t very deep either. There’s no real motivation given for why the killer does what he does. He mumbles something about a half-baked philosophy about us having a duty to perform but it’s never made clear, and since we don’t get to engage with the characters the revelation of who the killer actually is doesn’t have any shock value. I think it would have been better if the film had entirely taken place in the rehab center, with the background being revealed through group sessions. That way at least the characters would be developed more and there would be more of a claustrophobic setting.

As it is there’s a cathartic ending and a good performance by Stallone but not much else. It’s a forgettable watch and there’s not much action but not enough intrigue and drama to make up for it. So you’re left with a film that has the ingredients to be good but doesn’t hit the mark.

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