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3.9 out of 5 stars9
3.9 out of 5 stars
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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!
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Kevin Spacey's Albino Alligator is a stylised hostage drama that clearly has pretensions to a kind of existential greatness. However these don't quite come off and I had difficulty in following the plot towards the end, without feeling that it was really worth trying to unscramble. It might appeal to fans of films like Reservoir Dogs or Ths Usual Suspects, in that it is filmed in a similarly elegant but offhand style. Its message seems to be that crime doesn't pay, even as it wallows in anguish and blood, although the violence is largely kept off-camera. The film is very claustrophobic, being set in a basement bar at night, where the criminal trio have taken hostages and are surrounded by police. A superficial resemblance to Dog Day Afternoon points up the problems with Spacey's film, as it lacks the humour and energy of Sidney Lumet's drama. Trying to put a human face on Matt Dillon's character doesn't work all that well because he comes across as a hoodlum, albeit a sexy one (and none-too-bright, which seems to be built-in to the concept), which I don't think was the case with Al Pacino's character. It also shares with that film the presence of a madman sidekick who is dying to let fly with the bullets, but again without the saving comedy. The best thing about this film is Dillon's physical appeal, Faye Dunaway's star quality - she still has that indefinable something - and a young actor's attraction. The camera certainly presents these three with a luminous glow, worth seeing in itself, but otherwise it's a bit of a dead duck - and a rather confusing one.
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on 17 February 2013
I've been reading some reviews of "Albino Alligator" and a few of them seems to "dislike" this film.
I loved it, it's low key charm and subtle performances really making for a pleasurable end result.
Give it a chance.
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VINE VOICEon 13 December 2010
A stake out, a botched robbery, a chase and finally, three bad guys holed up in a basement bar with a bunch of hostages. But they are not the only bad guys in the bar.

OK, that makes this a hostage movie with a twist but is it any good?

Hostage movies depend almost entirely on the development of chemistry between the three parties involved, the hostages, the hostage takers and the cops. That is where this movie lets itself down.

The cops - in this case the ATF - are nowhere, A.T.F. Agent G.D. Browning (Joe Mantegna) does get the funniest line in the whole movie but that's about it for law enforcement. So we are just left with the bad guys and the bar flies.

Dova (Matt Dillon) and Milo (Gary Sinise) are brothers and together with Law (William Fichtner) they make up a mismatched set of crooks. Law has a simple bottom line: he will not return to prison and he is prepared to kill everyone in the bar if it keeps him out of jail. Milo, badly hurt in the car chase, doesn't agree but is in no position to assert his will and falls into despair. Dova struggles to keep peace between his brother and his friend but it is a struggle that he must ultimately lose.

It's Dino's (M. Emmet Walsh) bar but Walsh gets pretty well no script to work with which is a shame. Barhelp Janet Boudreaux (Faye Dunaway) gets more and Dunaway does a great job with what she has to work with but any real interplay between her and the gang is more a hint of potential than a realisation. Watch Dog Day Afternoon and see how Al Pacino and Penelope Allen pull this one off. Dillon may be no Pacino but Dunaway is a fine actress and together they should have been able to make it - they just don't have quite enough script to work with.

Guy Foucard (Viggo Mortensen) is a real disappointment. He is not entirely to blame - the script does him no favours - but more importantly, he is miscast here. When you have seen this movie, try to imagine it with Steve Buscemi playing this role, it would not have turned this into a great movie but it would have moved it up a notch.

It was Kevin Spacey's debut as a director and while it was good enough to justify letting him have another go (it was a long time coming) many of the movies problems arose from the directing and the script.
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on 17 May 2013
It looks like a theathre story adapted for the big screen. It is mosly psychological but Spacey is smart enough to keep the attention of the audience always above the line. The cast is appropriately selected and the soundtrack (courtesy of Michael Brook) is a real bonus too: I would suggest to buy the CD of the OST togheter with the DVD.
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on 6 May 2013
A great ensemble cast give outstanding performances in a claustrophobic setting. Not a good versus bad story as the morals of both are tested in a taut and convincing plot. A thought provoking film and highly recommended viewing.
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VINE VOICEon 13 December 2010
A stake out, a botched robbery, a chase and finally, three bad guys holed up in a basement bar with a bunch of hostages. But they are not the only bad guys in the bar.

OK, that makes this a hostage movie with a twist but is it any good?

Hostage movies depend almost entirely on the development of chemistry between the three parties involved, the hostages, the hostage takers and the cops. That is where this movie lets itself down.

The cops - in this case the ATF - are nowhere, A.T.F. Agent G.D. Browning (Joe Mantegna) does get the funniest line in the whole movie but that's about it for law enforcement. So we are just left with the bad guys and the bar flies.

Dova (Matt Dillon) and Milo (Gary Sinise) are brothers and together with Law (William Fichtner) they make up a mismatched set of crooks. Law has a simple bottom line: he will not return to prison and he is prepared to kill everyone in the bar if it keeps him out of jail. Milo, badly hurt in the car chase, doesn't agree but is in no position to assert his will and falls into despair. Dova struggles to keep peace between his brother and his friend but it is a struggle that he must ultimately lose.

It's Dino's (M. Emmet Walsh) bar but Walsh gets pretty well no script to work with which is a shame. Barhelp Janet Boudreaux (Faye Dunaway) gets more and Dunaway does a great job with what she has to work with but any real interplay between her and the gang is more a hint of potential than a realisation. Watch Dog Day Afternoon and see how Al Pacino and Penelope Allen pull this one off. Dillon may be no Pacino but Dunaway is a fine actress and together they should have been able to make it - they just don't have quite enough script to work with.

Guy Foucard (Viggo Mortensen) is a real disappointment. He is not entirely to blame - the script does him no favours - but more importantly, he is miscast here. When you have seen this movie, try to imagine it with Steve Buscemi playing this role, it would not have turned this into a great movie but it would have moved it up a notch.

It was Kevin Spacey's debut as a director and while it was good enough to justify letting him have another go (it was a long time coming) many of the movies problems arose from the directing and the script.
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on 6 October 2005
I watched this on channel 5 at late night, expecting it to be rubbish. Nevertheless I was bored so i watched it with my brother.
We were both instantly gripped, great acting, unexpecting twists and good script. The characters are very believable. i am not exagerating, I just don't know why no-1 has heard of it.
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on 7 February 2005
.... I haven't actually seen this film, but it deserves 5 stars just for the great title.
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