Thursday, February 27, 2014
Nothing But A Cheap Crook
ANOTHER 48 HRS. directed by Hill on which Matthew F. Leonetti also served as director of photography relies more on close-ups than Hill had done earlier in his career. When Sunny and Rafe reenter the story in the second half it’s frankly a joy to watch them and I certainly wouldn’t mind a few more scenes of just the two actors playing them snarling at each other but in keeping the pace going the film doesn’t waste time moving towards the second big heist either. More than anything it’s hurt by how the final section post-heist feels like a process of moving chess pieces into place more than telling the story of the title character since while things should barrel forward at this point there are the issues of laundering the money and certain people learning Johnny’s true identity and getting everyone to the same place for the climax. If it could have accomplished all this sooner while paying attention to the arc of the title character and run only 75 minutes, like the mythical black & white verison I mentioned, it might have been better than just another cool Walter Hill film. It might have been a minor classic. DESPERATE HOURS and HARLEY DAVIDSON AND THE MARLBORO MAN came after, followed by oblivion for a few years). It’s an unusual close to that period if that’s the case considering how much the character is supposed to be a blank, with his most emotional moments coming before his face changes. At first speechless at the sight of his new face, afterwards it’s as if he allows the blank of his new face to work for him, to play off of the much bigger performances around him and it’s continually fascinating to watch. Ellen Barkin (in one of two films released in September ’89—the other was SEA OF LOVE which also starred, what do you know, Al Pacino and was directed by Harold Becker) is phenomenal here, ferociously and terrifyingly sexy, fearless, grabbing hold of every scene she’s in and biting off every last ounce of meat she can find. The name Sunny couldn’t possibly seem less appropriate for her character and Barkin plays it as if she thought Marie Windsor in THE KILLING was too nice and sweet—when she tells Rourke, her old DINER co-star, that he’s giving her bad thoughts one can’t help but wonder what sort of thoughts she’d been having beforehand. She’s absolutely fearless here, taunting Johnny with a cry of “geek” like the kids who teased him when he was a kid, and the way her voice goes down on the word ‘gave’ when she says, “Either that or I gave it away” to Henriksen makes me think statues should be erected in her honor.