The nasty, sometimes violent story was written by Christian Forte, a newcomer who is clearly under Quentin Tarantino's unpleasant spell, and directed by Kevin Spacey, an unusually gifted actor who doesn't yet show any special talent for filmmaking.
Ultimately, the talented cast -- among them M. Emmet Walsh, Faye Dunaway, Skeet Ulrich, and Viggo Mortensen -- play to their easiest star turns rather than their most interesting strengths.
Generally favorable reviews- based on 20 Ratings
Aug 5, 2012by Dane Youssef
A gang of crooks. The perfect plan. It all goes wrong. They're in trouble. The police are outside. They're cornered. Whatby Dane Youssef
A gang of crooks. The perfect plan. It all goes wrong. They're in trouble. The police are outside. They're cornered. What are they gonna do now? Sound familiar? The movie seems like it's trying to be a combination of the acting workshop, the "indie" film and the theater. It's the kind of things that actors love--it's kind of like a workshop or a play because it mostly consists of tight focusing on the actors acting... acting angry, tense, scared, conversing, scheming, planning--giving the performers a lot of free range to really ham it all up.
A trio of crooks, one leader, one goon, one brother, come up with a big heist scheme... and a monkey wrench is thrown into the works.
The dialouge is obviously trying to go for a David Mamet approach and it's as profane, but never as realistic or as insightful.
The movie feels like too much of what it really is... a really low-budget movie with an actor behind the camera for the first time directing other actors from a script that's "not bad, but needs a few more re-writes." Spacey shows he's not a terrible director, but he lacks a sort of feel for "shaping a movie" and it feels like he's just filming actors act. These actors are all talented and could work with the material, but they all feel out of place. As I said before, the movie really suffers from miscasting. I don't mean that the wrong actors were cast. I think they found just the right cast, but placed them in all the wrong roles. I think switching some of the roles would've helped immensely. Having veteran mob actor Joe Mantagna play the leader of the pack, Gary Sinese as the angry police lieutenant outside on his bullhorn giving orders and barking at his troops, keeping Fischter in his "bloodthirsty goon" part and Matt Dillion as the sacrificial lamb. That would have been a big improvement.
When some actors direct, it works. They can even win Oscars for it. But a lot of the time, when actors direct, they have a tendency to just focus on the performances. Just shoot the actors acting. Sometimes it works... but they need a good showcase for it. An excuse for it. Hostage situations are all pretty much the same in real life just like coming-of-age stories so it's only natural that movies about them will go from point A to point B as well.
There are a few really great entries into this genre.' Spacey himself appeared in a similar movie about hostage situations: "The Negotiator."
Still, it does have a few nice moments and personal touches, but in the end, it's instantly forgettable and the kind of movie that would play best on regular TV. It's just not worth going out of your way to see.
I give a 3 out of 10. I did notice his next job behind the camera "Beyond The Sea" was a much better effort. Hmmm... maybe it is true. You need to fail before you can succeed.
--One Badass Alabaster Crocodile, Dane Youssef… Full Review »