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STUDIO: HBO Video
RATED: Rated R
RUNNING TIME: 105 Minutes
· Commentary with director Ari Ryan and producer Scott Gold
· Behind-the-scenes interview with the director
“This may be our only chance to get the star of Robocop on screen with Chet Steadman!”
Henry “Don’t call me Elliott” Thomas, David “I was in Valentine” Boreanaz, Vera “Running Scared” Farminga, Peter “Robocop” Weller, Bruce “father of Dr. Sattler” Dern, Nick “former Mr. Simpson” Lachey, and Gary “Gary Busey” Busey.
Paul Weston (Thomas) is a gambler, living in a rundown motel , late on his rent, and owes some money to dangerous people. Stock broker Roger Hargitay (Boreanauz) gets a call that a scam he has helped his boss (Weller) implement has just failed, and are now in the hole thousands upon thousands of dollars. Lucky for Paul and Roger, they both know a guy, who knows a guy, who owns a jewelry store, which happens to have a major shipment arriving in a few days. Both parties, unbeknownst to the other, gathers an equally rag-tag team of psychos and new-to-the-crime-business types, and plans for the big heist.
He’d seen what they did with Rob MacNaughton. He wouldn’t share that fate.
He would run.
The problem with writing heist films or crime films (of which The Hard Easy is both) is that both genres survive on the strength of the writing, and charisma of the actors (of which The Hard Easy has neither). The other problem is that it’s actually pretty easy to slap together an overly convoluted plot, some characters at odds with each other, and some trite, snappy, Tarantino-wannabe dialogue. So, everybody thinks they can write one.
The thing is…they can’t.
The Hard Easy tries to incorporate every possible cliché genre staple that comes standard with the type of films it’s trying to emulate. When a new character is introduced, the image freezes for a few seconds, changes color, a name pops up, and then resumes. At one point in the film, a character actually says “Are you in or out?” Come on…there’s a point where loyalty to genre standards needs to be thrown out the window and at least tries to bring something new to the table. Director Ari Ryan doesn’t add much to the table either, especially during the climactic shoot-out at the jewelry store in the third act. The direction is clunky, and he opts for ramping up the speed and taking out frames, in hope for some style points. Instead it’s just hard to figure out what’s going on. On the other hand, this is his first and only directorial effort; so either he’s learned his lesson…or HBO has learned their lesson.
0% charisma. 100% denim.
I wanted to stick up for Henry Thomas in this, but just can’t. He’s proven to be a fairly decent actor, showing his chops in films like Gangs of New York, Dead Birds, and Suicide Kings, and proving he can be more then just the friend of the kindest alien invader. But here he looks like he’s floundering, wondering what the hell he’s doing in this mess. David Boreanaz fares the worst out of anyone, and that’s including Mr. Nick Lachey. The guy has one expression, and when he dares tread past his very limited range, the results are hilarious. Towards the end he has to have a total melt down, and when he’s jumping around and freaking out it’s actually embarrassing to watch. He’s perfect for stuff like Angel and Bones, where all he needs is one expression. Vera Farmiga has proven herself to be an intense firecracker of a woman, and she’s no different here. Though sometimes she shares Thomas’ look of “Why am I here?”
50% Charisma. 50% Alyssa.
Bruce Dern, Peter Weller, and Gary Busey (!) are all watchable, but also all look extremely bored. There is a scene, though, where Bruce Dern reprimands a guy for introducing himself as “The Wheelman.” He gets the guy to start repeating everything he says, eventually making him call himself an asshole. It seems more like Bruce Dern just didn’t like the guy playing the part, and instead of being funny, ends up being awkwardly real.
This is the sort of non-movie, completely off of EVERYBODY’S radar, that it makes me wonder why it was even made in the first place.
There’s a commentary from the director and producer. Both of them seem like affable gents. The interview with director Ari Ryan is about as generic as you can get. The Special Features button probably won’t get much use on the ole’ menu screen. Henry Thomas and David Boreanaz are both on the cover and both look appropriately shell-shocked.
4 out of 10
4 out of 10