Film Review: Little Dixie is a dirty actioner elevated by the vulnerable masculinity of Frank Grillo

  • Peter Gray
  • January 31, 2023
  • Comments Off on Film Review: Little Dixie is a dirty actioner elevated by the vulnerable masculinity of Frank Grillo

Director John Swab, a gritty aesthetic, and the gruff likeability of Frank Grillo have proven a welcome parcel over the last few years, and following on from both Body Brokers and Ida Red is Little Dixie, a formulaic but no-less investing thriller that exists in a rough, dirty reality.

Though there’s plenty of genre tropes adhered to in Little Dixie, Swab manages to manoeuvre around them with a certain darkness that keeps us as an audience invested, even if we’re unsurprised at some of the double crossing and revealed corruption that is brought forward throughout.

Politics and a violent frame of mind take precedence here, with Governor Richard Jeffs (Eric Dane) taking his conservative views on crime and, thanks to a savvy campaign advisor (Annabeth Gish), earning the deep red Southeast and Hispanic voters in the process due to some strategic gameplay.  Of course, things are about to go very wrong for Jeffs – once you’re dirty, it’s hard to stay clean – and, by extension, the silently intimidating Doc (Grillo, always a welcome genre presence), a “fixer” who helped funnel cash injections into Jeffs’ campaign.

Jeffs, hoping he’s important enough of a figure to stay safe amongst the fray, and Doc ultimately end up on the hit list of a brutal cartel, which means Doc is about to get his hands really dirty (and particularly bloody), and when the cartel send out the volatile and unpredictable Cuco (a fascinating Beau Knapp), Swab’s script delights in a certain nastiness the genre happily gives way to.

The “little Dixie” of the title is an affectionate nickname of sorts for Doc’s daughter (Sofia Bryant) – possibly the film’s only truly good person – and when Cuco takes it upon himself to kidnap her as a way of luring Doc and having him act on his violent instincts, the film enjoys its brutal mentality; even if what’s transpiring doesn’t feel entirely fresh.

It doesn’t really matter though as Little Dixie knowingly submits to the tropes of the revenge genre, and if you’re going to spend 100-or-so minutes with a film that entertains in spite of its familiarity, it might as well be with someone as reliable as Grillo at the helm.  Honing a masculinity and a sex appeal that works off both his vulnerability and his intimidating nature, Grillo feels like a rare breed of yesteryear action embodiment, happy to take as many hits as he dishes out without a lick of vanity.  He may deserve better than Little Dixie, but his presence alone elevates the story beyond its simplicities.


Little Dixie is screening in select theatres and available on Digital and on Demand in the United States from February 3rd, 2023.  An Australian release is yet to be determined.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.