Pay Dirt, or simply Paydirt, is a lightweight and forgettable film about double-crossing deals in the desert, from Christian Sesma.
Pay Dirt (originally Paydirt) is one of those films where you might as well just watch the trailer; not because the trailer pretty much tells the whole story, but because it makes the film look exciting. Apart from those couple of minutes shown in the trailer, there’s almost nothing exciting left at all.
The film is about Damien Brooks (Luke Goss) who serves five years in prison for marijuana possession because that’s all Sheriff Tucker (Val Kilmer) could pin on him, despite trying for several years to find more dirt. When Brooks – generally called “The Brit” – comes out of prison, he gets his old gang together to dig up the stolen money that he hid in the desert five years earlier. At the same time, the old Sheriff now retired, he does what he can to get Brooks for more than just the weed.
Pay Dirt was written, directed, and produced by Christian Sesma who was aiming for an “Indie Ocean’s Eleven”. It is set in the Coachella Valley with lots of sunshine, music, and fit, tanned bodies. But apart from some brief but colorful elements of Mexican American culture, such as a Dia De Los Muertos parade, that’s all there is to this film: glamorous people, music, sunshine, and a few palm trees. Considering it’s about criminals, there is hardly any crime, and only just enough double-crossing to fill the gaps in the film left when the music and posing stop.
I can’t deny Pay Dirt looks good; some of the drug gang are pretty hot (though some are cartoonish thugs too). They can all act too… but the film is just so damn vacuous that I’m struggling to remember more details. I remember two of the guys in The Brit’s gang were known as The Brains and The Brawn, and I remember that two of the women in his gang were known as The Badass and The Babe (a lesbian pair who play entirely for the male gaze)… but don’t those names tell you something about the intended audience? Easy-to-please young men with as much beer in front of them as popcorn.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, this is not a Val Kilmer film: it is completely Luke Goss’s vehicle (though there is a small part for Kilmer’s daughter). Fans of Kilmer will watch Pay Dirt feeling disappointed, partly because his is very much a secondary role (at most), but also because he is not the man he was. I’m going to do my best to forget his part in Pay Dirt and remember Kill Me Again and The Doors instead.