Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Give 'Em Hell, Malone

Get out your Noir cliches, we're reviewing Give 'Em Hell, Malone!
Thomas Jane as a P.I? Tell me that's not a movie you want to see! No wait, let me tell you that is not a movie you want to see.

Malone(Thomas Jane) is a hard man to kill. He's a private eye who's stumbled onto a briefcase that everyone wants and he'll be damned if anyone else gets it!

This is not a very good movie. It is what happens when someone takes all the noir cliches and tries to make a movie out of them without having any of the noir substance.  There are noir elements and even a few cool ideas and characters, but it turns into a bunch of things just happening because someone needed to fill out their noir checklist. This is a great example of bad noir.

One of the problems of this movie(and there are many) is that it can't decide what era it's in. Malone seems to have stepped out of a 40's crime novel, but the rest of the world seems to take place in the mid-nineties(for reference, this movie was released in 2009). I can't stand movies that can't make up their mind like this.  This could have all been avoided if even one character had mentioned that Malone is stuck in the past or something, but they did not care about the narrative enough for that.  It feels as though they didn't want to have to deal with cell phones and computers, but still wanted some of the classic noir feel, and also still had no budget for classic sets, costumes and cars. It's a sloppy setting.
When French Stewart is the best part of
your movie, you have a bad movie. 

It's a shame that they didn't put more thought into it because it actually has some cool parts. I mean, who doesn't want to see Thomas Jane as a 40's noir detective?! He plays his character pretty badass too, and his narration is tops.  He gets into a number of cool gun battles and has a complicated relationship with his mother( Eileen Ryan).  You wouldn't think one of the best things about this movie is French Stewart saying, "suck my Sinatra", but there it is. He plays a skeevy crooner who can only get gigs at retirement homes, and he's a pretty fun character. And hey, Ving Rhames plays a badass Ving Rhames, so there's that, although there's not enough of his backstory to care. Everyone else ranges from over the top to mildly ok.

They have the hard-boiled detective, the evil gangster, the femme fatale, the cute ninja girl, and hope that if they put enough cookie-cutter parts next to each other it'll make a consistent whole, but it doesn't. There's the crazy asian girl who cuts up perves that they stole from Sin City.  Then there's the generic confusing hall of mirror scene in the generic creepy carnival, strangely put ten minutes into the movie(Can we all agree to never use carnival scenes and hall-of-mirror scenes in movies and games ever again?).  And I'm pretty sure they took the personality of Heath Ledger's Joker and slapped him with Two-Face's scarred face and hoped people would think Matchstick(Doug Hutchison) is's a clever Dick Tracy villain, but no, no he is not.

There's no substance, no rhyme or reason, just a collection of scenes sewn together. It's just a convouted mess.  A dame's brother gets killed and she has no scenes mourning his loss. Then a couple of scenes later she throws herself at Malone because...there's no reason for this or anything leading up to it. And then they go back to the carnival and the bad guy shoots his own thugs for what reason I don't know.  And then the creepy asian girl puts on a cirque du soleil show with a tied up Malone becuase why the hell not.
The main girl has an accent discernable reason?
Minor quibbles: For people who are supposed to be good guys, they are strangely terrible at keeping people alive.  Malone's boss hides a girl and she sees his head literally aflame(with terrible cgi fire mind you) and she just stands there. Get some water woman! Geez! And why does no one know how to stop, drop and roll? And is Malone his first or last name? You'd think it's his last, but even his mother calls him Malone. So is he just like Seal, or is it more likely they didn't think enough to give him a full name? Yes, I think that.

The problem with a lot of not-very-good noir movies is they have a great set-up but can't pull off the ending. They spend all this time asking a question you really want to know the answer to, but when they finally get around to answering it, they can't really think up anything as good as the question they asked. And this is hard, because what you find out about Malone's character is a pretty good twist, but everything leading up to why all these goons are going after him and why the big gangster needs the case is just dumb and makes no sense at all. It's disappointing and not worth what we had to slog through to get there.

And the really weird thing that I have no qualms of spoiling is it ends with them saying, "Too be continued." Look, the only movie in existence that has any right to say "To be continued" at the end is Back to the Future.  All other movies are just full of themselves.  But it's super weird considering it's not a cliffhanger ending at all!  Everything was resolved and most of the cast is dead. Did someone not tell the diector what an ambiguous somber ending is and he felt he had to connect it somehow? Do we really want to see more of this character and world?  Is this just a bad joke? What I'm saying is this is not a good way to end your movie.

This is the perfect example of what happens when you try to make a noir movie and all you've seen are noir parodies. There's a few good ideas and some nice action, but nothing you can't get in other better movies and nothing worth slogging through this mess of a movie for. I knew this was going to be bad and I wanted to like it anyway, but I couldn't. And you shouldn't either.

THE GOOD: Thomas Jane as a detective, Ving Rahmes, French Stewart, a few good ideas and lines of dialogue, a few cool bits of action.

THE BAD: Movie can't decide what era it's in, half-hearted generic characters, terribel music, a convoluted mess of a story, terrible cgi effects, too many bad noir cliches, things don't make sense, bad ending, ends on a 'to be continued'.

THE VERDICT: $$ It's not worth it.  Only watch if you really want to see Thomas Jane as a PI,or if you want to see how to do noir wrong.

MOVIES BETTER THAN IT: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Maltese Falcon, Murder my Sweet, Kiss Me Deadly, L.A. Confidential

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Malone is tied up and the creepy asian girl comes down on a rope as some sort of show. She waves her swords around and tries to creepily come on to him and this seems to go on for five minutes. And then Malone hits her in the face and it's over.  Why does she do this? What was the point? It's just a lot of flash and show for no reason, because they needed to have a ninja girl in their story because that's what all noirs have apparently.

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