Thursday, January 28, 2010

Movie Review: Give 'Em Hell Malone

I absolutely love the poster for this film, which is sadly the most entertaining aspect of the film. Give 'em Hell Malone is a direct-to-dvd crime noir where Thomas Jane plays a tough as nails PI (are there any other kind) who must dodge bullets and help save a damsel in distress (Elsa Pataky) who may be more trouble than she's worth.

Directed by Russell Mulcahy, who after directing 1986's Highlander, ruining 1991's Highlander sequel, Highlander 2: The Quickening and nearly ending the Resident Evil film franchise with 2007's Resident Evil: Extinction, now appears to be in the direct-to-dvd directing wasteland after coming out with this film and 2008's Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior. Poor, poor Russell Mulcahy, we hardly knew ye, but perhaps it's for the best.

I love crime noirs, which are probably my favorite types of films, along with early 20th century screwball comedies. So when I heard about this kind of comicbook homage to the old crime films with Thomas Jane in the lead role, I eagerly rushed out to see it. Sadly this is more parody/spoof than homage. It's not an overt spoof since it doesn't try to make fun of the genre conventions its mimicking, but it's cheesy dialogue, cardboard cutout characters, and lack of any real budget make it feel more a spoof than an homage. It's like the filmmakers took all the great stuff that make hardboiled crime noir's awesome (the beautiful femme fatale, the gun action and violence, the "hero" that walks in a gray world, rather than black and white) and strips them of all the fun, leaving the bare bones scraps behind that kinda have enough meat on it to make some soup (it tries even to enter the world of camp with a burn-victim henchman who keeps getting set on fire and a Japanese school girl who loves cutting things without theKill Bill cool).

Give 'em Hell Malone had some potential. Beautiful cast, a lot of great gore and violence, and a bluish-tinted cgi world reminiscent of Frank Miller's Sin City, but the screenwriters made a cardinal sin when writing the film, they made the characters boring and empty, and when playing around in a genre that's all about the characters since it's all about the hidden truths of humanity, then yeah, you got a very uninteresting movie. The screenwriters failed to realize that what makes a good crime noir is not the action, not the violence or even the world, but rather the people who inhabit the shadows.

It hurts me to say this since we genre lovers don't get enough crime noir films anymore, but don't bother renting Give 'em Hell Malone or even watching it for free on late night tv. There was potential here, potential for a film franchise even, but this is one world that's not worth visiting.

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