Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.
USA, 1995. Miramax, Woods Entertainment. Screenplay by Scott Rosenberg. Cinematography by Elliot Davis. Produced by Jonathan McHugh, Cary Woods. Music by Michael Convertino. Production Design by Nelson Coates. Costume Design by Abigail Murray. Film Editing by Richard Marks. Toronto International Film Festival 1995.
This one’s plot reads like a failing student in a screenwriting class is putting disingenuous twists on a tired formula to score points, it’s the usual crime plot gone awry but the details are strange to the point of being completely incomprehensible. Andy Garcia runs a company that allows people who are dying to record themselves giving advice to their loved ones as a memento after their death, but he’s not raking in the cash (big surprise) so he frequently takes out loans from shady creditors. One of them, a slick mob boss confined to a wheelchair (played with his usual slithering relish by Christopher Walken) calls in the loan and demands Garcia do him a favour: his mentally challenged son is going around molesting little girls because he’s upset that his girlfriend left him for someone else, so could Garcia and his friends rough up that someone else so that she’ll start dating his son again? Yes, that makes perfect sense to me too. Garcia gathers up his bunch of rag tags, including Bill Nunn, Treat Williams and Christopher Lloyd and they set out to accomplish this task, arranging an elaborate scam involving dressing up as cops and stopping their intended victim (played in an unbilled cameo by Josh Charles) for a fake traffic stop (wouldn’t it be enough to have one tough guy beat him up in the alley outside his work? These guys treat their assignment like it’s Ocean’s Eleven). Unfortunately, things go very wrong and the situation ends in dead bodies, making this bunch of guys the targets of Walken’s murderous wrath. The cliches pile to the ceiling and the only thing keeping them from exhausting you is the competency of the supporting cast, which also includes a lovely Gabrielle Anwar in an unnecessary subplot involving Garcia’s love life. As usual, the star plays it cool to the point of seeming apathetic, relying too much on that phone sex voice and slick hair and never investing the stakes with any kind of emotional tension.