Middle Men is the tale of Mr Fix-it Jack Harris (played by Luke Wilson - Old School
) who is drafted in to help two guys, Wayne & Buck (Gabriel Macht - The Spirit
& Giovanni Ribisi - Boiler Room
) with a great idea but absolutely no business sense. It's 1997 and they've just figured out how to charge people's credit cards across the internet to pay for goods and services, namely, pornography. Whilst the hapless Wayne & Buck get themselves into all sorts of trouble by associating with Russian gangsters and developing serious drug habits - it's Jack's job to keep them on the straight and narrow and ensure that this great idea makes the progression from a quick money-spinner to a multi-billion dollar international corporation. Of course, everyone is clamouring for a piece of the action and as Jack mixes with conmen, gangsters & porn stars he feels his morality start to fade and spends more & more time away from his wife and kids. The FBI have started sniffing around too, alerted by some of the rather dubious content the guys sell. Will he make the right choice and get out before it's too late or will he continue to be seduced by the money and by the industry?
Middle Men is a well-filmed cinematic experience with a great soundtrack. It's shot in a variety of high-end hotel suites and night-clubs, filled with gorgeous women, sharp suits and fast cars. Luke Wilson provides a decent rendition of a morally-torn businessman caught up in the trappings of wealth and the supporting cast are all recognisable; James Caan as the corrupt lawyer, Terry Crews as Harris's bodyguard, Rade Šerbedzija as the stereotypical Russian Mafioso (does he ever play any other role?!) and numerous notable adult-entertainment starlets make cameos. Giovanni Ribisi deserves a special mention for playing a strung-out junkie-come-genius with great aplomb - despite never taking his shades off for the entire 105 minute duration.
Extra content: There is the usual director's commentary, outtakes, and a couple of deleted scenes and a montage of all the slaps used in the feature, which turns out to be more than you might expect, pretty funny, but doesn't really add anything to the experience.
All in all, a well-shot film that bombed at the box-office and quite surprisingly so. It's not going to win an Oscar but this is a solid film with an interesting premise, well shot and with an excellent cast that really deserved more attention than it got at it's release. Well worth a watch!