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dir-scr Hadi Hajaig
prd Hadi Hajaig, Tom Lassally
with Sam Rockwell, Phoebe Fox, Ben Schwartz, Peter Ferdinando, Peter Polycarpou, Al Weaver, Robin Hellier, Amanda Donohoe, Frances Barber, Simon Callow, Martin Muncaster, Andre Flynn
release US 24.Aug.18, UK 5.Oct.18
Criminal masterminds: Schwartz and Rockwell
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
This offbeat British crime comedy is packed with outrageously ridiculous people in a state of desperation. Alas, the movie is far too ramshackle for its story to properly engage the audience. The caper plot is relatively standard, with goofy twists and repetitively messy situations, but it gets swamped in pointlessly derivative violence. At least the cast brings some fun.
On parole in New York, Eddie and Paul (Rockwell and Schwartz) work in a dodgy diner and are hired for a week-long job in London by fast-talking Katherine (Fox). They join a team (Weaver and Hellier) to stage a hold-up at the Natural History Museum at which no one should get hurt. But things spiral out of control when big boss Arkady's (Polucarpou) mulleted goon Deacon (Fernandino) tries to get the bag of bonds for himself. So Eddie and Paul join Katherine to stop Arkady's intricate plan relating to the famed Blue Iguana diamond.
The script is packed with hilarious touches that both bring the characters to life and add little surprises. Eddie is obsessed with comic books. Paul is trying to conceptualise a blockbuster movie. The brainy, no-nonsense Katherine is underestimated by everyone, and there's rather obviously a spark of chemistry between her and Eddie. Deacon is extremely touchy about both his father. Even the smaller side roles are colourfully chaotic. And the snappy dialog bristles with attitude that feels comically improvised.
Rockwell and Fox are the only actors able to layer more intriguing layers under the wacky surfaces, and both are terrific at making even the most ludicrous encounters feel believable. Although Eddie's slack-jawed lust is somewhat stupid, as is Katherine's voracious food obsession. Other characters are even more comical, but the actors stir in some enjoyable nuttiness. Schwartz is hilariously freewheeling, especially when he starts flirting with the wonderful Donohoe as Deacon's trashy wife. And Fernandino gives his all in an attempt to bring the one-note Deacon to life.
Writer-director Hajaig keeps the film bouncing along merrily, playfully juggling virtually every cliche of the genre, including the usual plot gyrations. But there's no irony in here, and no subtext either. The film's only reason to exist seems to be a series of increasingly grisly slow-motion shootouts. It trundles along with a jaunty sense of energy, but never finds anything interesting along the way. There are plenty of things to smile at, even if it feels increasingly vacuous. And ultimately the actors and filmmakers seem to lose their grip on the plot.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S
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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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