In South of Heaven, Jason Sudeikis sounds an awful lot like he does as Ted Lasso, but he’s playing an entirely different character, a man who’s worlds away from the amiable American football coach who finds himself coaching soccer in England.
This time out, Sudeikis portrays Jimmy Ray, a former convict who’s paroled from prison after serving 10 years for a bank robbery. Jimmy wants nothing more than to marry Ann (Evangeline Lilly), the woman he loves and who is dying of lung cancer. She has waited 10 years for him.
Director Aharon Keshales (Big Bad Wolves) takes Jimmy’s story through too many mood swings to be effective. The movie alternates hard-boiled drama, tender exchanges, and, finally, a grotesquely out-of-place shootout that pits Jimmy against a small army of foes.
The story’s complications begin when Jimmy is tempted into more criminal behavior by a corrupt parole officer (Shea Whigham).
In the course of picking up some money, Jimmy has a car accident in which a motorcyclist dies. Turns out the cyclist was a courier for Whit Price (Mike Colter), a smooth-talking but brutal gangster who was waiting for the delivery of $500,000. Price wants his money and believes Jimmy stole it.
Eventually, Price kidnaps Ann, forcing Jimmy to kidnap Price’s son (Thaddeus J. Mixson). The movie softens as the respective kidnappers get to know and, of course, like their victims.
The relationship between Jimmy and Ann is well-drawn, but too much of the rest of the movie can’t accommodate the screenplay's wild variations.