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Rebel Without a Crew: “Monday” Film Review

“Monday” is a movie written and directed by Alejandro Montoya Marin, but this is no ordinary feature film. Marin was limited by time (two weeks for shooting), budget ($7,000) and help (rather than a crew, he had only one person assisting him). The reason for the constraints on Marin and his film? Reality TV show project “Rebel Without a Crew.”

Marin was one of five filmmakers chosen by director Robert Rodriguez to take part in this challenge, celebrating the 25-year anniversary of Rodriguez’s own debut film, “El Mariachi.” Rodriguez’s debut feature faced the same budget and crew limitations as the show’s contestants, inspiring the idea for the competition. The five filmmakers traveled to Austin to make their features, learning how to direct, edit, sound mix and more along the way.

“Monday” is an action-comedy influenced by the genre’s films of the 1980s. It follows 33-year-old Jim (Jamie H. Jung) through what could safely be said is the worst day of his life. Within the first ten minutes of the movie, Jim is both fired from his job and gets kicked out of the home he shared with his (ex-) girlfriend, Alice (Bonnie Gayle). The action comes into play with a turf war between two crime bosses and Jim getting caught in the middle of it all. Throughout the film, Jim has two people who will seemingly stand by him no matter what: his mother (Amy Nichols Madison) and his best friend Paul (Kenneth McGlothin).

In scenes that are focused more on character and plot development, the acting is good across the board and the dialogue is often hilarious. At one point, a character says he’s going to do something like Steven Seagal, and another character asks, “Steven Seagal from the ‘80s or now?” – a fair question to ask in a tense and dangerous situation. In fact, Jim makes a plethora of pop culture references throughout the film, which serve as a fun nod to movie and music lovers alike.

While a lot of the action doesn’t start until at least the halfway point of “Monday,” there is plenty of it in the back half. Several chase scenes – both in cars and on foot – keep the movie feeling fast-paced and fun. If you were unaware of the movie’s budget restraints, you probably wouldn’t guess that it was so low-budget, as the action components are relatively high-quality.

Madison is in the film sparingly as Jim’s mother, but she is a real highlight, even in a lineup of good actors. The film’s sound mixing is also a standout, whether it’s something as action-packed as guns firing, or something as mundane as the sounds of a typical 9-to-5 office. The soundtrack is enjoyable, often featuring fast-tempo indie pop and rock tracks like Sleigh Bells’s “Kids.”

This movie is likely to find fans among 20- and 30-somethings who enjoy the action-comedy genre. It runs about 58 minutes long, with the story taking up about 48 minutes and the rest being behind-the-scenes footage, bloopers and credits – plus a fun little post-credits Easter egg. Not only is this an impressive feature debut for Marin regardless, but knowing that he was so limited in terms of resources means that we can have a lot to look forward to from him no matter what he may be working with in the future.

El Rey Network – “Rebel Without a Crew” – Season One Trailer from Kevin Del Colle on Vimeo.

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