Friday, June 11, 2010

44 Inch Chest - DVD Review


Starring Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Dillane, Joanne Whalley and Melvil Paupoud.
Directed by Malcolm Venville.

I thought this was a sequel to Sexy Beast, the 2001 British gangster flick best remembered for Ben Kingsley's ferocious performance. Even though it's the same writers and Winstone and McShane are back, it's actually not a sequel at all. It's more like a failed experiment. The writers took a situation, basically a one-setting movie, and then let the characters bounce off each other, like Reservoir Dogs meets Glengarry Glen Ross. But even though the five main players are all really good at what they do, they're not really characters. All of them are underwritten and it's up to the actors to bring them to life and make them distinct.

There are no plot advancements in Acts Two and Three that deepen our understanding or reveal more layers to what's really going on. It's all surface. Winstone plays Colin, a gangster who's just learned his wife wife is leaving him for a younger man. His gang kidnaps the loverboy, and most of the movie is then in this boarded-up building where they ponder what to do with him. Ian McShane, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson and Stephen Dillane, who've all played lowlifes before, are his mates helping him out. So what are they going to do, skin the guy alive or what?

This movie commits the cardinal sin of not living up to its potential. It's one that made me ask myself "If I had the same cast and basic plot, could I have written a better movie?" Yes.

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