Starring Scott Eastwood, Jeff Fahey, Rita Wilson, David James Elliott
Dawn Patrol is likely to be among the worst of 2015’s early slate of films. Debuting at the Austin Film Festival, the drama touting itself as a film with a surfer-turned-Marine is quite a bit of false advertising. Clint Eastwood’s son Scott, making his leading film debut, is every bit as charming as his dad in his youth; everyone will be swooning over his surfer body, which is on display throughout the film. However, this is likely the worst film dealing with the world of surfing I have ever seen. Not only is the opinion of surfers in the film very low, but it’s low for women as well. Dawn Patrol takes a hard look at the sad world of bad parenting, a surfing community where parents encourage their sons to sell drugs, seek revenge, and revel in the same misery they find themselves in.
In a small surfing down near Santa Barbara, surfing brothers John (Eastwood) and Ben (Brochu) don’t have many expectations beyond catching waves, covering Surfer magazine, selling weed, and hooking up with chicks. John is older, wiser, and slightly more responsible than his fiery tempered surfing star brother and their alcoholic, drug addicted parents (Wilson, Fahey). When tragedy strikes one of the family members, their retaliation is only the beginning of the entire family’s downfall. John is surrounded by uneducated, poverty stricken, desperate family and friends who will do anything to hide their secrets.
The worst film dealing with the world of surfing I have ever seen.
This script looks and sounds a lot more like an episode of The OC or Baywatch than a feature film. It’s directed by Donald Petrie, Jr., who is far more familiar in his involvement in the TV movie of the week than feature films. His idea of subtlety or character development is equivalent to a soap opera. It doesn’t reinforce the story at all that Wilson and her highly visible breasts; Taylor, who is fully nude in the film; and the rest of the actresses degrade women to a level that can only reflect what the writers must think of mothers and daughters.
We see countless scenes of the young, hunky Ben defiling young girls, threatening violence, and abusing alcohol and drugs. Later, there is a scene where his father talks about opening a surf school in his son’s honor. “That’s what he would have wanted”, he says. This is absurd, since Ben’s character is so hedonistic and selfish—something his father witnessed on a daily basis. The inclusion of the Marine segment, where John is held at gunpoint retelling his story to his captor, is a pointless and unnecessary subplot that utterly fails in strengthening the already embarrassingly pathetic plot.
Poorly conceived, constructed and delivered film about a surfing community with no moral compass.