Don Cheadle stars in this very cool very twisty turns crime thriller that has a good sense of humor and a few too many twists and turns for its own good.
Don Cheadle plays Curt Goynes a man just released from prison after a heist gone wrong. He returns to Detroit in 1954 and takes on a job that should be easy. He and two other small timers Ronald, played by Benicio del Toro and Charley played by Kieran Culkin are tasked with stealing a document from a safe. The job goes wrong but n a very interesting way, and the criminals climb through the layers of crime in the city which leads them to an expected place.
There’s so much to love about this movie starting with the cast. Aside from the three I’ve already mentioned, we have great turns from Ray Liotta as a gangster, David Harbour as a nebbish accountant, a fat Brendan Fraser as a mid level mob enforcer, and Jon Hamm as a federal agent. Not to mention Amy Seimetz as a 50’s housewife struggling to keep it together and Julia Fox as a put upon gangsters wife. Every character is wonderfully drawn with interesting quirks and shading to their personas. This is as much a character piece as it is a thriller.
The film plays loose with perspective. We move from Curt to Ronald to Ray Liotta, to David Harbour. Using this shifting perspective the film creates a web that shows us the full picture of events rather than limiting us to one characters POV. It helps clarify the rather intricate plot twists that occur.
For my money there are too many twists and double crosses. Movies like this always zig when you expect them to zag, but this movie zigs then zags then loops back around to zig and zag again. There are so many double crosses in the end that I lost track. I think this reaction will dissipate upon rewatching the film. It’ll all make sense the second time around, but this time around it was distracting.
The other aspect of the film I really didn’t like is the cinematography. Steven Soderbergh shot the film (he is credited under the false name of Peter Andrew’s). I’ve never liked his cinematography. I don’t like the way Soderbergh lights interior scenes. Characters always appear too dark especially when next to bright windows. His films just look muddy and underexposed to my eye. In this film he uses an extreme wide angle lens that distorts the image in an unsettling manner. Will this bother anyone else? Probably not, but I couldn’t stand it.
As a story it’s fascinating. The characters are richly drawn and vividly brought to life. I really enjoyed this one aside from my gripes. It’s currently streaming on HBO Max. It’s definitely worth checking out especially if you’re a fan of crime films.
It’s my cup of tea B+