This is one of the ’90s crime pictures I had to catch up on. It came out in ’93, the year after Reservoir Dogs so it probaly just missed the raising of the standards. If it came out in the ’80s it would have seemed a little better but since then we’ve had a whole lot of far superior crime pictures and neo-noir type creations. This has the slick feel of a True Romance and the nihilistic attitude of a True Romance, but not the characterization of a Reservoir Dogs or the strong themes of honor and betrayal of a Reservoir Dogs.
Gary Oldman plays Jack Romeo (well they didn’t call him that in the movie but I’ve decided Romeo is his last name, you got a problem with that asshole? I didn’t think so) a police sergeant who, even if he wasn’t a police sergeant, would have almost no redeeming qualities. Now I think Gary Oldman is a great actor judging from what I’ve seen of him in the fifth element and the true romance. But I mean jesus. This is a guy who can play characters with no soul, no heart, pure evil. He is a great villain. But he is not a good anti-hero or everyman who you want to follow into the dark side. And we’re not going to feel sorry for him. If this movie was going to work it would have needed someone who could invest the character with some type of infectious charisma that would make you want to side with a fucking dirty pig asswipe like Jack Romeo.
Sgt. Romeo is in bed with the mob, they pay him $65,000 to tell him where a key witness is going to be so they can off him or her. Things go sour when the feds move one of the witnesses, a female Badass named Markovich or something like that, before her mob rivals get to her. Now Romeo is in trouble, they’re going to kill his wife and his niece/girlfriend and the rest of his toes if he doesn’t go kill this Markovich lady by noon Wednesday.
But Markovich shows him her thighs and pays him five times the $65,000 to help her fake her death. And that is one of the problems here. This guy is called Romeo and by the end of the picture it is clear that there is supposed to be a romantic element to this. He is supposed to really love his wife, and it is supposed to be tragic that the idiot thinks with his dick. I mean he’s fucking her niece, he’s fucking a Badass mob boss even late in the picture when she has only one arm, eventually you find out he’s fucking plenty of other gals. But we never see him spend any quality time with his wife, he doesn’t share his money with her or tell her what he’s doing, he even puts on a front complaining about how little he gets paid. And we’re not sure why either of them like each other, especially why she likes him. I mean jesus give us something to work with here or don’t pretend it’s romantic. You gotta give them some kind of good side to their relationship if it’s gonna mean shit to the audience.
But what’s almost worse than that is the god damned non-stop narration. It is supposed to be a surprise that it is Gary Oldman. But I mean jesus. He’s obviously not using his real accent and he sounds like a fucking jackass, doing this cheeseball accent to overemphasize lines like “It’s tough to dig a grave when the corpse is standing right there staring at you.” And he’s talking over this sleazy vibes and saxophone jazz. It’s supposed to give it a film noir feel but the whole thing feels more like one of those soft porn movies on Showtime about some private eye that starts fucking some femme fatale, most often played by Shannon Tweed.
This is also one of those movies where the cops all wear suits, sunglasses and mustaches and talk macho but you’re supposed to be impressed by it. Nice try. The funniest part is when a cop played by Will Patton says, “She turned around and she pointed my own gun at me Jack, you know like some kind of an animal!” Well for fuck’s sake I hope this line was re-dubbed for the cable version I saw because what a moronic thing to say. When was the last time you went up to a monkey or an elephant, stole his gun and turned it on him? Speaking for me only it’s been quite a while. This is like how people say something like, “You have no right to do this, to beat me like a dog!” Like it’s okay to beat a dog. What kind of a pussy beats up on a damn pooch?
There is only one truly memorable scene in this movie, and the filmmakers obviously knew this because they flashforward to it at the beginning so that you won’t give up on the movie until it happens. Romeo shoots Markovich, handcuffs her, throws her in the back of her car and drives off. But she’s not dead. From the backseat, she wraps her legs around his head and forces him to crash the car. Then she rolls over the seat and without hesitation, even though she’s wearing a skirt and pumps, savagely kicks through the windshield. Then she hooks the satchel of money with one foot, grabs some crucial papers in her mouth, rolls over the hood of the car and takes off down the street. Bravo. Now if only the rest of the movie could have been half that interesting we would have had something here.
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.