The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Catch .44 (2011)
We kick off our Bruce Willis week with Catch .44, what looks to be a fun, stylish, Noir-ish thriller starring him, Forrest Whitaker, Brad Dourif, and one of the Cullen family vampires from Twilight. The question is: is it good, or too Tarentino-y and too self-indulgent? I guess we'll see. Also, our friends at The Video Vacuum and Saturday Night Screening have looked at this one as well.
Catch .44 follows Malin Ackerman, a beautiful waitress who, with her friends Deborah Ann Woll and Nikki Reed (the vampiress), runs drugs for local crime lord Bruce Willis. They're given a special assignment to bust up a drug deal at a diner outside of town set up by some dudes trying to move in on Willis's turf. Things go wrong though, and could go even more wrong when local police sheriff Brad Dourif and Willis's hatchetman Forrest Whitaker get involved. How will it all play out?
This one didn't work for me. I could call it self-indulgent, because that's how a lot of these come off, but seeing that writer/director Aaron Harvey hasn't done much work, it might be more that he's working out the kinks in his game, and unfortunately he's working his kinks out with some big time names attached to his film, thus getting it a bigger audience. To give you an idea of how much it didn't work for me: fifteen minutes in, without thinking about it, I picked up a magazine next to me and started flipping through it. As far as I could tell, the only real tension we had, based on the non-linear storytelling, came near the end in the form of a Mexican Standoff, and while that worked really well, it does not a solid movie make. We also had a really funny scene that I'll discuss in the final paragraph, but that was about it. There were some lapses in logic that made the film not make any sense, primarily that Ackerman's character was supposed to be so street smart, yet she fell for an obvious set-up, and her friend, Nikki Reed's character, seemed to be onto these things, which lessened the quality of Ackerman's part. I guess what I'm saying is, if Reed is so smart, why am I rooting for Ackerman? Again, between the fact that it couldn't hold my interest, and the way the script had holes, it's a pass for me.
What is Bruce Willis doing in this movie? He's in it at the very beginning. Then he has an interesting scene with Ackerman where he's wearing a Speedo and a bathrobe, which isn't bad. Then there's the indulgent one with Forrest Whitaker in the diner that didn't make the money we expected it to make. But it's still Bruce Willis, and while he couldn't save this movie, he was still fun to watch. On the other hand, as someone who was coming to it for Willis, the lack of him was a disappointment, so that might be an issue for you too. I just couldn't figure out who he was supposed to be: flamboyant, uncouth local crime lord; or stone cold no nonsense seasoned crime boss. The fact the he wasn't enough of either to be one or the other made neither side work ultimately.
After Willis, Nikki Reed's character was one that worked for me, which made it all the more disappointing that her character was used to poorly. Right off the bat, we see her in that classic post-Tarentino pseudo-philosophical swill conversation, pretty much calling bullshit on Ackerman's theories on compromise, yet I got the sense that we were supposed to look at that scene as a "wow, isn't Ackerman's character smart?", when it achieved the opposite. Out of all the characters in the film, it was Reed's that was best written, and had the film either A) based it on her, or B), swapped her and Ackerman's if the idea was to make Ackerman the star, I think I would've come away with a better take.
I wasn't sure what to go with for this paragraph. First, we had the classic-yet-annoying practice of the still screen with the character's name splashed on the screen, only here it was especially egregious, because it often happened after we already knew who these people were. Word to the wise: if you think you have a smart movie script, it'll look not-so-smart really quick if you can't organically introduce your characters through the script. Second, I don't know what Forrest Whitaker was doing here. He affected a Spanish accent, and we don't know if that was who he was, or his character was affecting it too, but I felt like it wasted what was a great Whitaker. Once Whitaker signed on, I think that part should've been rewritten, but that's just me. Finally, Brad Dourif was barely in this at all. What could he have been had he been in it more? Who knows, because, like Whitaker and Willis, he's an exceptional acting talent.
I saved this last paragraph for one great joke that the film had, where the women, while driving to their job, listen to Bruce Willis's album. Remember that gem? According to Saturday Night Screening, who listened to the director's commentary, the director wrote this scene in before Willis signed onto the project, so it wasn't intentional, and ended up working even better because of it. Back in the mid-2000s, my buddy and I met some friends down in Boston at one of their friend's apartment, and my buddy decided to go through her music collection. He found this gem among her cassettes and CDs, and didn't hesitate to fire it up. No "look what I just found", no, "hey, why do you have this?", nope, just started playing it. It was a thing of beauty.
Unfortunately I can't say the same for this film. It didn't work on multiple levels, and the Willis factor, while he was good in it, was too small with his character's limited screen time. Too bad, because there were some elements of it that could've worked, had they been the focus more than some of the ones that didn't.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1886493/