Top positive review
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"I had four girlfriends in my entire life, and they were all tens" "Well, it looks like they were all f---ed by guys named Jack"
on 23 January 2015
I found this little known 2003 neo-noir crime film surprisingly good and I spend a nice moment watching it. It is not any kind of masterpiece, but a very honest, quite well done and well thought over thing - even if for once I saw the final twist coming like ten minutes in advance... Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.
IMPORTANT PRECISION: this film devotes a lot of its time to poker and I personally have NOT A CLUE about this game - but still, it didn't prevent me from enjoying the movie.
The film is mostly the story of three small time con-artists, who want to finally make some serious money. The head of the trio is nominally the oldest of them, a certain Charlie Miller (Gabriel Byrne), but in fact the most clever and the most ruthless is his girlfriend Tiffany (Thandie Newton). It is however the third member of the gang, a talented card player named Vernon (Stuart Townsend), who has the most crucial set of skills for what they plan...
The target of their scam is a very high stakes poker game, during which specially selected guests can try their forces against a legendary veteran player known as Dean (Sylvester Stallone). They need however first to raise some really serious money to buy their way into the game... I will say no more about the story.
For me it is always a pleasure to watch Sylvester Stallone, even in his lesser films - and this one actually is one of the best in which he played. His role is rather unusual but he did VERY WELL.
Jamie Foxx, who in 2003 was still a rising star, plays a secondary but very important role of Larry Jennings, a tough gangster/talented gambler who may well be interested in doing business with Charlie Miller and his gang...
Melanie Griffith appears here also, as a slowly aging gangster moll and even if she was in this film clearly only for a pay check, she added a lot to it. Bo Hopkins ("Dynasty") plays here Scarne, a ruthless corrupt cop. Veteran Hal Holbrook appears as Professor, now a mostly retired magician - who used to be Vernon's mentor.
The scenario is not half bad and mostly makes sense, even if there is at least one moment completely over the top (it involves Thandie Newton and a really obnoxious jerk named Jeff). There are also many twists and all the cards are turned face up only at the end. Mob bosses, hulking goons, crooked cops, strippers, casinos, unclean watering holes, backstabbing, double crossing, cash money, potent beverages, cigarette smoke, greed, stupidity and people taken for a ride - all this was sprinkled all over the scenario in just right proportions.
Bottom line, I was pleasantly surprised by this film and I am glad that I watched it, even if it is rather a thing to see once - so it is advised to rent rather than buy. Still, a very honest thing and a kind of nice tribute to old "film noir" classics. ENJOY!