The Channel: Blood(y) Brothers

Sometimes, those we love simply aren’t good for our health.

Written and directed by William Kaufman, The Channel tells the story of Jamie (Clayne Crawford), a loving father and ex-marine who spends his days as a bank robber in New Orleans. Jamie’s partner-in-crime is his older brother, Mic (Max Martini). Filled with rage, Mic is erratic and ferocious but still wants to look out for his younger sibling. But, when their latest heist goes wrong, Jamie and Mic find themselves in the crosshairs of a determined FBI agent and the criminal underworld, leaving them to fight for their survival.

The Channel is available on VOD on Friday, July 14th, 2023.

In a lot of ways, The Channel seems like a fairly by the numbers straight-to-video action fare. However, Kaufman understands how to assemble an action sequence with fury. As his camera remains in motion, Kaufmann fuels his scenes with force. In many ways, the viewer feels as though they are seated right within the action, as one of the thieves themselves. While not quite ‘first person’, Kaufman somehow manages to includes the audience in these moments by using the camera as a character. 

We feel the heat because we’re in the moment ourselves.

It’s worth noting that, even though the camera is always in motion, the film never resorts to mere shaky-cam footage. Made popular by the Bourne movies, that style of filmmaking often left the viewer wanting by substituting action for well thought-out action sequences. But, in The Channel, Kaufmann knows what he wants to accomplish and creates some truly intense scenes that engage the audience. 

However, there’s no question that the film’s best moments lie in the relationship of the two brothers. As conflicted Jamie weighs his future, his brother Mic is more impulsive and violent. To Mic, all that matters is the moment and he cares little for those in his way. Whereas many films would’ve succumbed to the stereotypical nature of these characters, Channel works hard to ensure that Mic and Jamie‘s relationship becomes far more complex. Their relationship may be toxic, but it’s based on brotherhood and family. 

These two thieves are bonded more deeply because of blood.

Without giving any spoilers, it’s their scenes together that give The Channel its heat. Because Mic is such a toxic personality, we wish that Jamie could break free from him. However, at the same time, their complicated love for one another fuses them together. (Credit must be given to the performances by Crawford and Martini as they help make the relationship between these characters something worth watching.) 

Through their journey together, The Channel takes an opportunity to explore the types of relationships that we know are poisonous yet we remain unable to break free. Mic and Jamie genuinely care about one another. Even so, when they are together, the space is never healthy. There’s a certain mix of beauty and misery about these relationships that makes us feel trapped. In essence, they can build us up in one moment and threaten to destroy us the next. Here, Mic and Jamie find themselves caught in the push-and-pull of their own harmful relationship and it drags them both down in the process.

By taking pieces from any number of action films, The Channel is a film that could go under everyone’s radar. But Kaufman ensures that this straight-to-VOD film offers an unexpected amount of intrigue to its characters and relationships. For this reason, this Channel may be worth tuning in to.

The Channel is available on VOD on Friday, July 14th, 2023.

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