Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
USA, 2001. Apostle, Avery Pix, New Line Cinema, Spanky Pictures. Screenplay by David McKenna, Nick Cassavetes, based on the book by Bruce Porter. Cinematography by Ellen Kuras. Produced by Ted Demme, Tomas Krejci, Denis Leary, Joel Stillerman. Music by Graeme Revell. Production Design by Michael Z. Hanan. Costume Design by Mark Bridges. Film Editing by Kevin Tent.
For anyone who can’t afford to rent all of GoodFellas, Boogie Nights, Casino and Traffic, this film liberally steals from all of them and combines them into one less inspired film. Johnny Depp gives an excellent performance as George Jung, a man whose desire to not be like his financially unstable father leads him towards anything that can guarantee big money with little risk of losing it.
Discovering the benefits of selling marijuana in California, Jung makes a healthy pile of cash until he discovers cocaine on trips to South America and becomes its main supplier in the United States. From then his life becomes one of huge money, unreliable relationships and great legal risks.
Ted Demme directs at a clipping pace, but his attempts to make this man likeable and a tragic hero fall flat even when Depp, who is the only truly original aspect of the experience, is at his best. Penelope Cruz is dull as Jung’s emotionally erratic second wife, while Franka Potente turns in a terrific performance as his first.