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Nathan Hill is hilarious as Jasper Clay, a shady private detective who reluctantly takes on a final case before retirement. Hired by a gorgeous prostitute to find her kidnapped son, Jasper is drawn into a knock 'em dead adventure in a crooked town filled with dangerous low lives and criminals. As he's chased by a violent drug cartel, he must unravel the mystery, find the boy, and clean up the streets with his own unique brand of justice - Jasper style! Written by
It's one of those times when a request comes in for an indie film review and I don't know what I'm in for, but Jasper thankfully came in above expectation as far as quality independent film goes, and despite it being the first that I've watched from the multi-hyphenated performer Nathan Hill, his Jasper is pure entertainment, being sharp and comedic to take you through possibly the final adventure of Jasper Clay the private investigator.
Produced, written, directed and starring Nathan Hill in the title role, experience has taught me that having one single guy helm that many aspects of an independent production will spell trouble, especially when one isn't adept at doing it all themselves, but thankfully Hill has proved me wrong. He had crafted what may seem like a typical, suave private investigator with Jasper Clay, but alas this guy has more troubles than he can solve, often finding himself one step back from the plot, and often getting into situations that are both hilarious, sexy and deadly all at the same time. Such, is the appeal of the hero, who doesn't pack a punch, but a paunch instead (which never fails to get highlighted!)
On the brink of retirement, he gets pulled back to the business with one final case with Courtney (Sandy Greenwood) employing his services to seek out her missing toddler son, and before you know it, she drops her clothes, some bad guys come barging in just as Jasper thinks he's gonna get lucky, and this for some karmic reason, gets repeated in almost every situation he gets into as he gets hot then cold on both her trail, and that of her son's. He's quite the ladies man, and for the viewer, this is something I'm definitely not complaining about.
Which in a way how the narrative worked reminded me of the computer game known as Leisure Suit Larry from a long time ago, although of course in this story the protagonist doesn't begin with getting laid the objective in mind, it's just that everything falls in his path, and the ladies finding him irresistibly sexy that begs the comedy to come. As a private eye Jasper does get quite clueless as to his situational awareness, getting beaten and blindsided far more times than one would be comfortable with. And this works in a way, preventing the creation of a super detective impervious to pain and failings, making him a little bit more human.
And the myriad of characters don't come any more varied than those created by Hill, although there were times when scenes get dragged for far longer than welcome, such as the scene in a boxing ring which just went on, if not to have an extended fight sequence that didn't have much significance save for a recurring character in the final act. The plot actually doesn't reveal itself until the final moments, being kept under wraps as you wonder why Jasper would be so dogged in his pursuit for a client when he well, hasn't gotten into a contract, nor paid upfront a certain percentage for his services. Action is pretty rare, and the scene with the two motorcycles would have been something if not for the anti-climatic end to it, as Jasper's packing a licensed (he makes it a point more than once) pistol that to the many of the goons here fail to realize or rid him of, and probably in the spirit of non-fatalities, didn't find him that big a threat to permanently take out from the equation.
Still, Jasper the film as far as an independent production goes, probably fueled by Red Bull's product placement, is as entertaining as it can get without any pretense of being anything more. It ends with a cliffhanger, though it's anyone's guess if Nathan Hill has a ready sequel up his sleeves.
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