So, I went to see this movie with an open mind. I had no idea what it was about or who was in it. All I knew is that the poster outside the theater looked like a cross between Middle Men and James Bond, and for some reason, that was enough for me. Now that I saw it, I don’t know why I hadn’t heard of it. There were no TV spots or pre-film trailers for it. There were virtually no advertisements anywhere, even though it has some potential for a decent target market. I saw it with one other person, and we were the only people in the theater late on a Sunday night. And even though the film is stuffed with as many flaws as it is with topless women and severed body parts, we had a blast watching it.
The story is pretty nuts. There is a big government cover-up involving a murder. Catarina (Paz Vega) is a high-end prostitute who has some key information that could bring out the truth. Anthony (Scott Mechlowicz) and Julian (Alphonso McAuley) are a couple guys who unwittingly stumble upon becoming private investigators, which immediately leads them to Catarina. They become her protectors from an insane, cold-blooded contract-killer named Helen (Oscar-nominee Janet McTeer), who was hired to make sure that she says nothing. That is about as well as I could explain it (or comprehend it for that matter). There is so much more random stuff going on, but that is the basic story.
The film is directed by John Stockwell, who hasn’t really made a good movie. His most famous ones are Blue Crush and Into the Blue, which is funny considering those are two movies that are all about looking good, when this movie is about as ugly as you could imagine. He does have a thing for beautiful women, though, but that is beyond the point. It is put together really oddly. There are a ton of just misplaced scenes that feel like they are from another movie. The whole film is like this, almost like a series of sketches or really interesting ideas that were thrown at the screen in an incomprehensible order, all the time sort of following one storyline…or a couple interlocking ones. I am not really sure.
The best part of the movie is Janet McTeer. It is one of the most insane roles an Oscar nominee of her caliber has ever done. Her Anton Chigurh-channeling assassin is as cool of a character as I have seen in 2011 so far. Her killing is always…creative. I would almost like to see a spin-off centered completely on her character. Paz Vega is always nice to see (and look at). Her character is exactly what you would expect, but she is a real actress and gives some life to it. Scott Mechlowicz (of Eurotrip and Mean Creek fame) is a very cool character, and he plays it nicely. Imagine Timberlake’s Sean Parker, but even more of a care-free attitude about everything. Alphonso McAuley is funny in his young Chris Tucker-channeling role. D.L. Hughley shows up as a man with no legs and one arm. Karel Roden slides into his menacing role seemlessly. Christopher McDonald is a scene-stealer as usual. It is an interesting cast, but even more of an interesting collection of quirky characters. Their lack of chemistry and awesome individual lines and scenes make for hilarity of the highest order, sometimes.
Now, what is this movie exactly? I couldn’t tell you. It is like a cross between Rush Hour, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and the Guy Ritchie British gangster films, while given a very thorough grindhouse touch. Some parts will definitely bring to mind some classic exploitation films. The violence is relentless and over-the-top, but so is everything else about the movie. It almost seems like it fits. The movie wraps up in a strangely mellow way. Everything about this movie is just so different than anything else out right now. I am glad that I had the lack of better judgment to give this movie a look.
So, should you see this movie? That’s a tough question. The thing is that if you go to the theater, you will probably be the only one there. Somehow, with all that lack of marketing, the film got a semi-wide release. It was playing in 103 theaters on its opening weekend and finished in a cool 55th place for the weekend box office, just three spots below this year’s Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Language Film In a Better World (4 screens). Its per-screen average was just $291, the second-lowest of any film that made more than $1000 over the weekend. For obvious reasons, people just aren’t seeing this movie. The distributors did an egregious job at marketing it. So, my advice is rent it, grab a beer, and watch it late at night with a group of friends. It will be a killer time-waster and a very entertaining way to spend a lame rainy night indoors. It is as funny as anything I have seen this year, and after watching it, all I could say about it was that it was so messy and just ruthlessly entertaining. That’s about all you can ask for from a B movie like this. I say that it is worth it, but maybe that’s just me.
Rating: 2.5 stars