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I stayed awake, so what did I fail to see?,
on 7 September 2003
The selection at the video rental shop seemed unusually dreary, so I focused on ALBINO ALLIGATOR for the simple reason that Faye Dunaway was in the cast, and I hadn't seen her in awhile. I admit to having a mild crush on her since the original THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR.
Matt Dillon, Gary Sinise and William Fichtner star as three small-time, New Orleans crooks who bungle a warehouse heist, and then take refuge in a basement bar after being involved in an auto accident during the getaway, at which time the Sinise character is injured going through the windshield. And, by the way, during the getaway they mash into the pavement a cop involved in an unrelated Federal stakeout. At any rate, once in the bar, which has no rear entrance, they're surrounded by the local SWAT team and assorted TV news vans. However, they do have five hostages: the bar's owner, the bartender (Dunaway), and three wee hour customers.
ALBINO ALLIGATOR is the directorial debut of Kevin Spacey, an actor of considerable talent. While I won't go so far as to say that this first effort was badly directed, the script wasn't worth his time and energy. Unless he's more selective, Kevin should stay with his bread-and-butter job. Curiously, the film just didn't have that "movie" feel. It reminded me more of a filmed stage production. Furthermore, the "albino alligator" reference, ostensibly a ruse by which alligators send out an albino to flush out foes, had absolutely no application in the storyline. At least, none that I discerned even after thinking about it for several minutes. I was even watching with my glasses on. To be evenhanded, the Fichtner character, a real psycho, was chillingly done. And Faye is still a Babe, even at this late date. On the other hand, the Dillon and Sinise characters, plus the cop-in-charge role-played by Joe Mantegna, were notably nondescript. And what illegal substance was somebody on when that Guy character was envisioned? (Was this an actors' afternoon workshop, by any chance?)
The film's greatest weakness, for me, was the ending. Without giving anything away, the survivors of the ordeal were not all those you'd expect. I got the feeling the scriptwriter was trying to illustrate a great truth, a morale to the story, so to speak. Somebody please tell me what it was!