by Tony Medley
I ran, but I wasn't scared.
A movie should establish its verisimilitude at the
outset. This starts with a bloodied young boy being thrown into a
convertible and driven at breakneck speed...then flash to some bad guys
doing a drug deal in a seedy hotel. The door bursts open and in charge
several guys in what looks like Doc Holliday-type coats and black masks,
wielding shotguns. They force everyone on the ground and demand that they
disarm themselves and toss their guns under the beds. The guys on the
ground comply amidst a deafening yelling-fest replete with an onslaught of
copious and tiresome F'ing expletives.
Here's the picture: the drug dealers are on the floor
on their stomachs; the interlopes are standing up with shotguns pointing
at the heads of each of the drug dealers on the floor. Suddenly one of the
drug dealers pulls a knife and slices the Achilles tendon of one of the
shotgun wielders. The next thing we know, all the shotgun wielders are
dead and the guys on their stomachs on the floor with shotguns to their
heads are all alive. In real life, the guys on the floor with the shotguns
to their heads would be dead in three seconds. Shotguns are close range
are devastating. But in the ensuing gunfight with the adversaries no more
than a couple of feet apart, the shotguns hit nobody! Nobody! The pistols,
on the other hand, in the hands of the drug dealers, are incredibly
That's bad enough. Then one of the drug dealers, Joey
Gazelle (Paul Walker) goes home to his wife, Teresa (Vera Farmiga) and
son, Nicky, (Alex Neuberger). He bursts into t/he house and immediately
engages in as derivative a sex scene as possible, taking her from behind,
pulling his pants down so he flashes his rear end, not a pretty sight.
Then he turns her around, starts ripping away her pants, and engages in
more graphic sexual acts. All the while Nicky is somewhere around the
house with his friend from next door, Oleg Yugorsky (Cameron Bright).
Living with them is Joey's father, Pops (Jan Kohout), a feeble-minded old
man who exasperates and irritates Joey because Pops is not longer capable
of feeding and caring for himself.
Flash to next door into Oleg's house and we
understand why Oleg was reluctant to go home. The tattooed stepfather,
Anzor Yugorsky (Karel Roden) is intent on watching a DVD of an old John
Wayne movie. Flash to a too close up close-up of an intimidated wife, Mila
Yugorsky (Ivana Milicevic), serving him his dinner, quivering in
anticipation of the back lash of inevitable complaints, trying
nonchalantly to appease and obvious brute. Flas to the creepy stepfather
with evil violence seeing barely below his surface who demands that Oleg
sit and watch his favorite movie with him. Backtalk. Brutal slam to the
head of a young child! Ugly.
The film tells the story of a minor mobster who is ordered by his
mob bosses to dispose of a gun used in the killing of a corrupt cop, but,
instead, Joey keeps it. Unfortunately for Joey, the gun is taken by Oleg,
who uses it to shoot Anzor, then runs away. Everyone is chasing Oleg,
including Joey, who justifiably fears for his family’s well-being.
What makes the film immeasurably worse is the grotesque, pseudo-avant
garde cinematography. The close ups are so close up, you can almost see
each individual pore. A head shot isn’t just a head shot, it’s a nose and
mouth shot. The cinematography is termed “gritty” by the producers because
it’s grainy, like a documentary. I call it just simply hideous.
Ugh! What this movie needed was some humor. What this movie needed was
some humanity. Maybe something true to life. Maybe. However, since the
film is “dedicated” by writer/director Wayne Kramer to Sam Peckinpah,
Brian de Palma, and Walter Hill, those options were apparently impossible.
This is a vile, violent film with no raison d’etre.
February 23, 2006