What I like about this low key independent crime picture from 2000 is it’s small time in every way. I mean it’s got Chris Walken in the lead and he’s a big movie star, but everything about the story and characters goes against Hollywood’s idea of what’s exciting. The story is your usual “ex-con gone straight is running out of options and has to do one last score to survive” type deal but put in a more realistic, unglamorous, ungritty context. This is an unthriller.
Walken lives in suburban New York. I don’t remember ever seeing big buildings in this one. Here he’s a nice guy, almost timid, definitely not the King of New York. You could argue he’s a player because he goes between three places: a house with his grown up daughter, a tiny apartment above his girlfriend’s bar, and a trailer by the garage he rents out. But he’s embarassed of his past and never tries to be a tough guy about it. He’s a mechanic but he doesn’t seem to get much work and on this day doesn’t get the money because he fucked up the job.
His aunt is in a catholic retirement home, but his check just bounced and they’re threatening to move her to a hospital. He’s behind on his rent, gonna get kicked out of his garage. Some Irish kid just showed up claiming to be his cousin. And Donal Logue from BLADE bugs him for half the movie until he finally gives in to do a safecracking job.
So we got the always enjoyable planning sequences, like Walken practicing on dummy safes until he cracks it fast enough to beat the alarm on the real thing. But like I said, the whole thing is small time. One of the fingers is a little league coach, and their first meeting is on lawn chairs during a game. There are no guns in this movie at all. There are no mafia guys. Definitely no car chases. There are cops putting on the pressure, but not for the reasons you think. One wants his car fixed, the other wants to buy a VCR from Donal Logue. This is one of them spoilers, but when they finally get into the safe all they get is one bag full of ones. And they don’t seem disappointed.
Cyndi Lauper plays the girlfriend, and I know what you’re thinking. Is she really Captain Lou Albano’s daughter or was that just in her videos. Well I looked it up and it turns out her and Captain Lou were just friends. But it’s a good question so I’m glad you asked. Also she has regular one colored hair in this movie. She’s actually real good as the disappointed loved one who Walken oughta just straighten up and do right by, but doesn’t. The other people in his life seem to be used to him being a fuckup, and don’t say much about being disappointed. But you can see it in their eyes.
I guess the reason it’s the opportunists is because the other criminals wait for the opportunity to work with a good safecracker, when he has run out of money. Don’t worry, the gang doesn’t call themselves The Opportunists or nothing. It’s not that good of a title. Don’t confuse it with The Harmonists, that was something totally different. Or The Choristes. I think those are both about singing, which is not what this one’s about in my opinion.
I guess all the reasons I liked it were all the reasons everybody on the IMDb didn’t like it. This is definitely not an action movie and it’s not a comedy either, although you gotta laugh occasionally. But if you want to be not thrilled, this is a real good unthriller. I liked this one. Good small time job by small time director Myles Connell, best known as some guy who did an episode of Homicide once.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.