Directed By:Stephen Hopkins
Written By: Lewis Colick and Jere Cunningham
A couple of years ago Amber and I took a trip to Chicago. We drove there and along the way our borrowed GPS device lead us into a really seedy neighborhood in the slums outside the city. Fortunately for us it was early, because I would not want to see the people who wandered out of those houses after noon. We had just bought our first brand new car as a couple and happened to be driving it when we found ourselves in this place. I remember how bizarre it felt and I remember thinking about this movie. It was after that trip and once we returned that I sought out the movie and added it to the collection.
This movie is one I remember watching in my teens and really enjoying. It’s an interesting and riveting story about people who find themselves in a different part of the world and in a danger they have never know before. Denis Leary gives the performance of a lifetime, possibly playing one of the coolest bad guys ever. He is ruthless, he is intimidating with his wit, and he does not take any shit from anybody. My favorite part of the film is when he offers the projects gangster money and the gangster tries to tell him if he wants his money he will take it. Leary responds “no you can’t take my money,” with a look and tone that cuts like a knife. The gangster does not challenge the statement, and I don’t know that anybody in the world would have. Of course Leary is enhanced as a gangster by having a really badass number two man played by Peter Greene. Greene has not done enough over the years. That guy has a look that was made to be on camera. His face is so villainous-looking and he has a voice that invokes intimidation. He should have been in more movies and those movies would have been better because of his presence. He is old now, and based on his short role in the pilot episode of Justified a few years ago I can attest his best years are behind him. He looks like shit now and that is unfortunate, but the guy had his moments. It’s a shame his best role came in The Mask, but he had a few parts that he did really well in. This one and The Usual Suspects were very good for him, and although it was a stupid movie, he was great in Under Siege 2 as well, but like I said the guy was born to play the bad guy.
As for the good guys/victims in this movie I think they were a great ensemble but some were better than others. Cuba Gooding Jr, Jeremy Piven, and Stephen Dorff were all three great but I felt this was one of the worst roles Emilio Estevez ever played. I find myself so often wondering what happened to Emilio and how he fails to find work while his psychotic brother stumbles into success at every turn. This movie may have given me an answer though. Emilio just isn’t a very good actor and this role is specifically not one he can pull off. Emilio isn’t a convincing tough guy. He doesn’t really play a tough guy in this movie but more so a settled down dad who used to be tough. He doesn’t pull it off well; he should have stuck to playing the lovable Disney hockey coach. I’ve always been a fan of Jeremy Piven but I like him better when he isn’t playing the kind of weasel character we see him play in this movie. He is still good despite that. Cuba has a great crazy look that he has exercised in many of his films and uses it frequently as this movie progresses. Stephen Dorff rounds up this group and plays his part well too.
I think this is a cool movie and would encourage anybody to check it out. If for no other reason you should see this movie to witness Denis Leary in one of his finest roles. I think he has been good in many movies but this one gives him the spotlight and he runs away with it. This movie doesn’t show up on TV very often but if you have the opportunity to see I think it is more than worth your time.
I was actually really surprised how much I paid attention to this movie. I got sucked in and found myself anticipating the end. I usually find more than not that movies like this are cheesy. I shouldn’t think like that, I could be missing out on other good movies. This one is worth watching. It is surprisingly good.
The poster surprised me too. I usually don’t really like too many posters that try to fit too many people on it, as I may have mentioned before. Cough. Having said that, I think it works here. The bad guy is all dimmed out and is hiding behind all of the other objects in the poster. The typography is tight and simple. Overall I think it’s a good poster for this movie.
NEXT MOVIE: Julia & Julia(2009)