By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Stick with “The Power of Few” because the payoff is so worth it.
“Power” is the feature-film debut from Boardman native Leone Marucci, who wrote and directed it. The film premiered Friday at Tinseltown in Boardman and at a theater in Columbus. It is expected to expand to other cities in coming weeks.
“Power” is an action film with an ensemble cast that’s enmeshed in a convoluted story. But once you catch up to it, “Power” morphs into an engrossing puzzle, satisfying in its construction and surprising in its outcome.
It’s an auspicious start for Marucci, who has assembled a remarkable cast that includes Christian Slater, Q’orianka Kilcher, Moon Bloodgood, Anthony Anderson, Juvenile and a great Christopher Walken as a straggly street person who once was a famous face in town. He may be a little touched in the head, but he knows something.
Talk-show legend Larry King also is here. He plays himself — delivering news about the theft of the Shroud of Turin.
If you’re wondering how a rookie director such as Marucci attracted such top-shelf talent, the answer lies in his crackling script.
It’s whip smart, although it takes a while to reveal its secrets.
Couched in action-film tropes, “Power” follows four seemingly unrelated storylines that collide into one, like a Rubik’s Cube that goes from chaos to solid colors with an ever-quickening pace.
Although that device is nothing new, “Power” meets the subgenre’s requirement for an airtight script while adding some fresh elements.
Marucci guides the viewer with chapter titles to separate the scenes. Overlapping moments in the four stories are repeated to snap the story together, piece by piece.
It begins at 2 p.m. on a sunny day in New Orleans that’s disrupted by car crashes and gunfire. The camera captures the seedy neighborhoods and faded elegance of the city.
Unconnected lives intersect in a flashpoint scene that becomes familiar as we see what led to it for each person involved.
There’s a teenager desperate to help his baby brother, and a neighborhood snitch hunted by a street gang. A free-spirited Vespa-driving delivery girl (Kilcher), and a pair of agents (Slater and Nicky Whelan) who’ll stop at nothing to solve a shocking theft. And there’s Walken’s character with his diminutive sidekick.
They all converge at a street corner in a run-down Crescent City neighborhood.
Some of the tough-talk lines get forced, but it’s part of the film’s gleefully in-your-face attitude. In anatomy-of-a-moment movies like this, not all characters get a back story.
“Power” moves briskly right from the start and lets up only after a mind- blowing finale.
It will give pause — and make for a long discussion — long after you’ve left the theater.