Since its release in January, Flinch (2021) has already garnered a large internet following and success, showing up on Google’s list of “best movies of 2021.” Even in its earliest weeks on screen, Flinch attracted audiences everywhere to drive-in theaters all across the USA with multiple sold-out screenings.
Flinch is not your average neo-mob film. Following a young hitman named Joe Doyle (Daniel Zovatto), Flinch tells Doyle’s story as he struggles to balance vulnerability triggered by a new crush and the apathetically violent reality of his career. After killing his target, a notorious city council member named Ed Terzian, played by sensational comedian Tom Segura, Doyle realizes he’s been seen by Ed’s beautiful assistant, Mia (Tilda Cobham-Hervey). During the time Doyle spends studying Ed, he develops a distant crush on Mia, silently admiring her from afar. Now that she has caught him red handed, he is confronted with the dilemma of choosing between finishing his job by covering up his tracks, i.e. killing the witness, or keeping Mia alive. Just as Doyle gathers up the strength to pick his job over his feelings, Mia doesn’t flinch as he points his gun at her face – hence the film’s namesake. We later learn that Doyle was taught by his father, also a hitman, that someone who doesn’t flinch in the face of death could only have that confident will to live if they know something you don’t. This mystery keeps the plot alive throughout the entirety of its runtime, sending the audience on a cliff-hanging ride with many twists and turns as the story unfolds.
Brought to life by an all-star cast, Flinch brings together a versatile group of viewers from dedicated fans of Tom Segura, who returns to his dramatic roots in his role as Ed Terzian, to fans of indie crime icon Buddy Duress whose bad boy backstory makes his performance all the more intriguing. Led by two refreshing faces to the silver screen, Flinch’s protagonists carry most of the story’s weight. Played by Daniel Zovatto and Tilda Cobham-Hervey, the characters of Doyle and Mia are performed together with a palpably suspenseful tension that keeps the viewer engaged, wanting to see what comes of their relationship as it evolves with every page that gets turned.
Reminiscent of retro synthwave sounds and aesthetics, Flinch is saturated with key elements of the style from neon motifs to an incredible score by none other than Miami Nights 1984. While this approach has been done in movies before this one, what makes Flinch stand out is its clear evidence of intention and research into everything synthwave from touches of identifiable tropes to its score, integrating itself into synthwave history.
Flinch loads up a lot on its plate in terms of narrative goals and thoughtful themes, but the collaboration of all its elements in harmony with each other make it a film that could speak to many viewers across age, gender, and interest. Whether or not it’s a full plate one can eat up entirely is relative, but it is definitely one that will make many eager to take a bite.