Rob the Mob
Runtime 104 minutes.
Not for children.
This is a terrifically-acted, well-paced mob comedy, based on a true story, up until about the last 15 minutes when it loses all its pace and slows down to a plodathon, complete with Johnny Mathis wailing “Dream, Dream, Dream” (a little known 1964 waltz) under a maudlin montage of shots that almost completely destroys what came before.
While this continues the old Hollywood tradition of picturing the mafia as a bunch of loveable, doddering, laughable codgers, it was anything but. Still, Michael Pitt, as Tommy, and Nina Arianda, as Rosie, portray a couple of goofy kids in 1991 who pick on the mobsters by holding them up in clumsy, but effective armed robberies. The holdups are interspersed with Pitt and Arianda’s love affair and a journalist, Cardozo (Ray Romano), who tries to turn them into a 1990s Bonnie and Clyde.
The Hollywood tradition holds firm by picturing the mob boss, Big Al (Andy Garcia), as a gentle grandfather who spends his time teaching his grandson how to cook. Director Raymond De Felitta gets great performances by Pitt and Arianda, along with fine supporting performances by the entire case, especially by Cathy Moriarty playing Tommy’s mother.
All in all this is a highly entertaining film. De Felitta keeps the pace moving throughout except for the dismal last act.
Runtime 110 minutes.
Not for children.
What do you expect when you see Arnold Schwarzenegger and writer/director David Ayer collaborate on a movie, hearts and flowers? What you get is a lot of action, a lot of bullets flying around, and a lot of blood.
Arnold is Arnold. Here he’s leading a DEA team of tough guys. Arnold and his team (including Sam Worthington) are suspected of ripping off $10 million on a DEA bust. When one of his team gets smoked, detective Olivia Williams gets on the case.
Ayer obviously has something against the English language because his scripts would have a lot of white space in them if it weren’t for the f-word. While this film isn’t nearly as vulgar as Ayer’s End of Watch (2012), indeed it would have to go a long way to achieve that dubious distinction, it is still replete with bad language, including women who have to prove they are one of the guys and who use f-bombs with abandon. It’s disconcerting to see Shakespearean-trained Williams falling prey to this sort of language abuse. There is simply no need to populate films with such vulgar language. Ayer still pictures policemen (here, DEA agents) as immature fraternity boys who have to prove their manhood by using unrefined language.
The action is no more idiotic than the action that takes place in most pictures like this, but it’s no less, either. The joke is that Ayer is quoted as saying that “reality is the watchword of this project.” The only place where the action that Ayer produces in this movie is realistic is on a Hollywood backlot. There are gun fights with automatic weapons spraying bullets all over city streets and the insides of buildings. Bullets from automatic weapons can penetrate walls, but nobody in adjoining rooms is ever hit. Although to his credit Ayer does show some collateral damage during one street fight, when do gunfights like in this film ever happen anywhere even in Chicago and Detroit?
Although you don’t go to a movie like this to watch acting, Williams gives a good performance, even if she does try to outdo the men in being a tough cop. What’s good about the movie is that it has wonderful pace. There’s a mystery that needs to be solved and revenge that needs to be gained. There isn’t anyone contemplating their navels, or anything else that looks like Ayer thinks he’s making some sort of artistic statement here. It’s yet another action picture and it’s entertaining. ‘Nuff said.