The Opportunists

Vic Kelly (Walken) ponders his future...
dir-scr Myles Connell
with Christopher Walken, Peter McDonald, Cyndi Lauper, Vera Farmiga, Donal Logue, Jose Zuniga, Jerry Grayson, Chuck Cooper, Tom Noonan
99/US 3 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
With a gently paced story about putting the past behind you to get a second chance at life, writer-director Connell's The Opportunists centres on Vic Kelly (Walken), an ex-con with serious problems. He's trying to go straight as a car mechanic, but nothing's going right for him. Then long-lost cousin Michael (McDonald) arrives from Ireland and talks him in to doing one more safe-cracking heist to dig himself out of trouble. But it's not nearly that simple.

This low-key film works up a subtle level of intrigue on several levels as it looks at Vic's relationships with his girlfriend Sally (Lauper), daughter Miriam (Farmiga) and Michael, as well as a slowly developing relationship between Michael and Miriam. And the heist is gripping without ever developing into a cliched action sequence. It's extremely well-played by the entire cast, with Walken especially good (of course) as a man who's absolutely mortified about his past and yet still risks everything. It's great to see him play a character who isn't insane for a change! The slow pace does make the film drag here and there, but there's a terrific payoff at the very end, with a lovely moment that brings everything into focus beautifully, without being remotely simplistic or glib.

[adult themes] 16.Nov.99
US release 11.Aug.00

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1999 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall