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Monday, November 19, 2007

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead - Movie Review

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Written by Kelly Masterson
Directed by Sidney Lumet

You know those movies that start off slow and you have no idea what's going on but it keeps getting better and better as things start making sense?

Yeah, this isn't one of them.

It's the exact opposite in fact.

What started off extremely promising, with a nice twist on the heist buddy flick, sadly devolved into an incoherent and violent cliched ridden angry film where I couldn't care about any of the main characters which put a serious damper on the whole point of the film. Yes, I get it. Philip Seymour Hoffman can act mad and turn all red. That's not acting. That's stress management (and from the rumours, is not that far off from his real life). Of course, I thought Hoffman was pretty good in Capote but I didn't think he was the best actor that year and I thought Toby Jones was far better as Truman Capote in the lesser known Capote film, Imfamous (how ironic eh?).

Anyways, without spilling too much of the mystery (which again, had a nice twist to begin with and then went into every heist cliché you could think of), Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke plan a heist, things go wrong, Marissa Tomei is naked in almost every scene she is in. Both Hawke and Hoffman are naked at least once in the movie as well. There's a gay storyline thrown in. Some major drug use. Adultery. Death, death and more deaths, and the unhappy ending. How original.

Sydney Lumet does do a nice directing job, keeping the suspense going throughout most of the movie, but when Hoffman's character has no redeeming qualities, and falls into the situation he's in because of his own faults and vices, it's hard to care for the man when all I kept thinking was... "SUCK IT UP. Life sucks. Deal with it."

Ethan Hawke does a pretty good job using his now-lined boyish face (that would be cuter if it had a bit more meat on it) into creating the only character with any likability but in the end, I found Lumet's interesting direction only masked the prosaic threadbare vapid script (have I used enough synonyms for "boring" yet?). Things kept happening (or not happening) that were just too convenient to the plot. I kept groaning that Murphy's Law kept arising.

The movie started off as an A movie but the longer it went, the more points I kept taking off of it. If the movie stopped halfway, it might have still survived with an A- or B+ and I'm probably being nice still. I'll give extra points for Albert Finney being in the flick and I liked Brian F. O'Byrne who was pretty amusing. In the end, the movie was a little tedious and the more I kept thinking about it, the bigger the plotholes kept getting. Just because it was an exercise for good Hollywood actors to scream, yell and get angry and frustrated does not mean it's an enjoyable film to watch or even a smart one.

Before The Devil Knows You're Dead = B-

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