David Lyons is Colin, a man simply passing through a small town on the way to a job interview (cliche #1). On a dusty desert road, a man in a hurry tries to pass Colin at the same time another person in the adjacent lane is approaching in a big hurry. The man flies off the road and is killed in a spectacular crash, and the other driver, the beautiful Jina (Emma Booth) -- cliche #2 -- is shaken but otherwise okay. There, Colin finds the requisite briefcase, packed to the brim with bills. Being the good citizen that he is, he drives back to the town after dropping Jina at home, and delivers the briefcase to the police station, where Frank (Jason Clarke) is happy to lock it in the single holding cell. Frank invites Colin to dinner, where it of course turns out that Jina is Frank's unhappy wife. Cue misunderstandings, violence, seduction, blah blah blah.
Right away, Swerve climbs onto the nerves, as Jina is a woman with a mysterious past who is clearly trying to escape Frank when everything goes south. Frank figures this out immediately, and of course Jina knows what she was up to; hell, even Colin learns it quickly enough. Since Frank is an abusive dick, what conceivable reason is there for him to invite a stranger over to his house, when the stranger a) knows about a suitcase full of money that Frank intends to keep for himself, and b) his wife just tried to make a run for it? Jina blows two tires in the accident, but there is no obvious reason she could only have escaped on that single day; presumably, Frank would want to exert his control over her. While Frank is at the office learning some of these things, Jina also tries to seduce Colin, which made me want to throw my remote at the TV. The seduction involves dialogue that director / writer Craig Lahiff thinks is clever but is actually obnoxiously on-the-nose ("Would it kill you to call me Jina?" "It just might."), as do many other scenes in the movie ("Ten minutes won't change my life," a character mentioning Verdi's "Force of Destiny").
Movies are often accused of having "no likable characters." Many great, fascinating characters aren't likable; what they likely mean is that every character is unlikable. That's certainly the case with Swerve, at least part of which stems from none of them acting logically. Colin is the worst offender, the kind of upstanding guy who would turn in a briefcase full of money but would apparently also agree to, say, help dump a body in a well because it might make someone look bad. Predictably, someone who was expecting the aforementioned sack of money comes looking for it (Travis McMahon), and, as any good criminal who doesn't want to get caught doing criminal things, starts killing nearly every person he meets...except the characters that matter, of course. Lahiff piles on the irritation by believing that "character driven" means "having an excessive amount of characters." Two men from Jina's past come into play (one of whom is already dead). At least one peripheral character, whose identity is never known, is introduced just so the antagonist can kill them.
On top of it all, Lahiff is not too good at plotting or directing. In one scene, Jina notices the killer tailing her car, and she sees a bus ahead. In a normal movie, she would sneak through a gap that the bus itself closes, preventing the killer from following her further, but here, the bus slams on its brakes and the killer inexplicably runs into it, as if he can't see an entire bus several yards out behind one car directly in front of him. In another scene, Colin is ostensibly sleeping, yet when he climbs out of bed to investigate something he's still wearing his jeans under the covers, which is weird. He goes down the hall and sees Jina with Frank in their bedroom, and Jina notices and shuts the door before Frank sees Colin. A few scenes later, Colin references the moment by saying "I heard you last night," which is weird, because they clearly looked directly at each other Jina even openly acknowledged Colin's presence. These kinds of details may not be hugely important to the plot, but they're so obviously inconsistent, speaking to an overall sloppiness that comes back to haunt the film in its final moments. It's a two-part coda, one part of which is clever, while the other is somewhat confusing. Hard for me to respect a movie's desire for the viewer to pay attention when the filmmakers couldn't be bothered to do the same thing.
The Video and Audio
Trailers for Mademoiselle C, Black Jack, and Inspector Lavardin play before the main menu. An original theatrical trailer for Swerve is also included.