Dead On: Relentless II (November 13/04)
Dead On: Relentless II is just as ineffectual and dull as its predecessor, though once again the film features a director who imbues the proceedings with a better-than-expected sense of style.
The story picks up a few months after the events of the first film, with detective Sam Dietz (Leo Rossi) now separated from his wife (Meg Foster). The attack on his family (as seen in Relentless) has turned Dietz into a cynical, jaded cop - traits that serve him well once he begins investigating a series of murders that eventually turn out to be the work of a known serial killer. The partnerless Dietz is paired with a slick FBI agent named Kyle Valsone (Ray Sharkey), who has been tracking said murderer's movements for months.
Dead On: Relentless II plays out in pretty much the same way as the first movie, with Dietz assembling clues and getting yelled at by his angry Captain - though, to be fair, this Captain isn't nearly as angry as the one in the original (who was essentially a parody of the angry Captain). In terms of continuity, the two films don't synch up all that well; Relentless ended with Dietz and his wife planning to move out of the city, where Dietz would assume a job as a small-town Sheriff. Screenwriter Mark Sevi, presumably looking for a way to pad out the runtime, splits up the two and spends the entire movie hinting at a reconciliation (how do we know that Dietz has grown as a person? He doesn't put his wife on hold while talking to her on the phone).
The film's been directed by Michael Schroeder, who admittedly does a nice job of livening up some of the more pedestrian sequences in Sevi's script. However, there's a definite sense of pretentiousness running through the film - exemplified in Schroeder's continued use of choppy, slow-motion, black-and-white flashbacks - and the filmmaker occasionally goes overboard in terms of style (a POV shot from inside a typewriter is a little much).
It seems fairly obvious that if you liked the original Relentless, you'll probably also dig this one. But if you hated that movie, well, it's safe to assume this isn't exactly going to float your boat.