Thursday, April 19, 2012

Catch .44

Get out your long dialogue and anti-climactic action, we're reviewing Catch .44!
They do a good job of making Bruce Willis look old but trying to look young.
If Quentin Tarantino didn't have a hand in making this, he should probably be suing someone, because I'm pretty damn sure this is a Quentin Tarantino movie.  But is it a good Tarantino movie?

Tess(Malin Akerman), Kara(Nikki Reed), and Dawn(Deborah Ann Woll) are three drug running ladies intercepting a shipment for their boss Mel(Bruce Willis).  Shit quickly hits the fan, a guy named Ronny(Forrest Whitaker) gets involved, and everything gets rightly fucked.
Fort Whitaker is the best part of this.

This is a Tarantino movie, and that means there's lot's of dialogue, long dramatic shots, nods to classic grindhouse movies, great overacting, a great soundtrack, a nonlinear storyline, and lots of tension with little bits of anti-climactic action. What's that? Tarantino didn't direct this? He had nothing to do with it in fact? Oh, well that's unfortunate.  Yes, this feels like a lesser cousin to Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction, but not as stylish. It's Pulp Fiction Lite. So if you really dig Tarantino, you'll probably enjoy this. And if you can't stand his movies, stay far far away.  Of course, if you're a HUGE Tarantino fan, there's the possibility you'll resent this for copying his style without quite pulling it off.

I'd say it's not really about anything, but neither are Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs. In fact, it has  slightly more story to that, which both helps it and hurts it. It's a nice bloody little story, but it doesn't have dialogue or scenes classic enough to hold up to it's bigger brothers. It really wants to, and it hopes you won't notice, but it just doesn't quite pull it. The dialogue is wordy and the scenes have tension, and a few of them aren't half bad, but just because you're talking dramatically about nothing and throwing in some fucks for good measure doesn't make it good. Good performances however, do.

The biggest attractions in this are Willis and Whitaker. Willis is pretty much playing Bruce Willis here, but it's really hard for Bruce Willis to mess up playing Bruce Willis. Forest Whitaker on the other hand steals the show with his performance, or performances, as he plays a guy who's playing a number of different parts.  I really liked Nikki Reed and Deborah Woll too, but sadly their parts weren't as prominent as I'd hoped. I'm not sure if it's Akerman's character or her acting, but I was not feeling her performance.  I wanted more from her, more overacting, more extreme, and more going off the rails, especially for some of the trouble she gets into.
Sorry, no.

One of my biggest gripes with this film is that it kills the tension early, especially if you're paying close attention. It does the same kind of thing as Tarantino's other movies(what? It's still not a Tarantino film? Really?) in killing off characters and then bringing them back in flashbacks, but in Catch .44, they don't spend enough time with the characters for you to like them before offing them. There's little reason to get invested when you already know they're going to die. SPOILER ALERT FOR PULP FICTION contrast this with Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction, we get a whole half of a movie to get to know him before he gets killed suddenly, giving us ample caring room. END PULP SPOILER ALERT

Guns fire and people die, and there's gobs of blood, but somehow it's not as bloody or meaningful as you'd expect a Tarantino movie to be(seriously? It's not a Tarantino movie?).  Other things to notice: a few boob shots and buttload of fucks if you don't like that sort of thing.  They even have some film ripping effects to make it look like a classic Grindhouse flick, and it works alright.  The soundtrack is great, and used to marvelous effect, but half of the songs are ones you've already heard in other, better movies. Enjoyable, but no reason to run out and buy it.

What really annoys me is how cool the name Catch .44 is, but I have no idea what it means! None of the characters make reference to it during any of the dialogue, which is a wasted opportunity.  Obviously it's a play on the idea of a catch 22, and a .44 magnum, but there's no important magnum here and there's nothing really catch 22ish aobut the story.  Maybe I'm not looking into it hard enough, but it's really not that great a movie to think too hard about. It's a great metaphor for the entire movie: It sounds cool, but there's no greater context or meaning to it.

It's not great, but it's still kind of fun in parts. Whitaker and Willis have some great performances and it's ok if you really like Tarantino movies, but it's really not one of his best. What? It's still not a Tarantino movie? You sure he didn't produce it or something? Really?!

THE GOOD: It's a Tarantino movie, if you like Tarantino movies. Good soundtrack, great performance by Forest Whitaker.

THE BAD: It's not that good of a Tarantino movie. Everything feels off, Akerman isn't that great, and it kills the tension too early.  Lots of swearing, boobs and violence if you don't like that, or if you just don't like Tarantino movies.

THE VERDICT: Meh. If you really like Tarantino, you might enjoy it. If you find it on Netflix, it's not that bad of a ride, It's still pretty fun, but it's not amazing.

MOVIES LIKE IT: Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Grindhouse

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: One of the first scenes(after the double-flash forward, because, hey why not) the three main protagonists have a very Tarantinoesque conversation about faking it in bed and compromise. They try to be Tarantino, but the dialogue feels forced, there's no fancy camera tricks, they don't overact it to any great effect, and it's just not that memorable. This movie is faking it and you are compromising by watching it. Zing!

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