STUDIO: Image Entertainment
MSRP: $29.97
RUNNING TIME: 82 minutes
• Nada

The Pitch

Top GUN.

The Humans

Starring Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Val Kilmer, Annalynne McCord, James Remar, Danny Trejo, John Larroquette
Story and screenplay by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson
Directed by Jessy Terrero

The Nutshell

Having just been released from prison, Angel (Kilmer) heads out to see his old friend Rich (Jackson) who is quickly climbing the ranks of the gun-running gangs in Detroit after having killed his direct competition. Unfortunately for both of them, the police are onto them and keeping up with their every move. But as the police close in and the pressure to make a big deal for his suppliers, Rich starts to question Angel’s motives for joining the group. Cops and robbers movie scenes commence.

She might look like a twenty-something chick from Beverly Hills, but she’s actually a crime queen from Detroit. Riiiiight.

The Lowdown

Surprisingly enough, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson isn’t the worst screenwriter in the world. Then again, who knows how much he actually wrote himself since the back of the DVD itself says “story and screenplay by,” which from my limited knowledge of how official WGA credits work would indicate that there were other writers on the project who didn’t change quite enough to get credit, while the titles in the opening credits say “written by,” which implies that it’s more likely Fitty himself was the sole writer. Regardless, given a movie where the seven-times-shot raptor stars in a movie that he penned, it wasn’t nearly as incompetent as you might think.

At the same time, it’s nothing special. And perhaps I enjoyed it a little too much just because Val Kilmer was in it. Even late-career, super-bloated, just-doing-this-for-a-paycheck-so-I-can-keep-drinking-and-eating-everything-in-sight-because-damnit-I’m-Iceman-motherfuckers Val Kilmer with long hair that I would love to say must be a wig but given the rest of his slovenly appearance (about which C-Jax comments in the movie: “What are you doing with your money?” because Kilmer’s character, Angel, has such a pathetic wardrobe, even by ’90s grunge standards), it’s probably his real hair. So at least he can be proud of the fact that he’s not balding despite being in his early-50s.

50 Cent can’t even try to contain his shock and surprise that behind all that fat and unkempt hair is the man who was Iceman.

That’s the one thing he still has going for him because it sure isn’t his acting prowess. Then again, it’s not like Fitty the Writer gave Kilmer much to work with. Or any of the characters for that matter — most of which were performed by capable character actors like James Remar and Danny Trejo, and then John Larroquette and Annalynne McCord, who probably could win the Most Miscast Actress of the Year award for her performance as Gabriella, the titular gun supplier heiress whose main scene culminates in a softcore porn scene with Rich (Fitty the Actor) that would nearly make Red Shoe Diaries proud. For whatever reason, Rich respects this barely legal blonde with hair straight out of the late 70s as being some sort of gun-running queenpin, and we’re supposed to believe it even though she should’ve been portrayed by an actress twice her age.

Otherwise, everyone fit their bills just right. Remar sleepwalks through his role as a detective who knows that Rich is straight gangsta but needs to find the proof before he can bring him down (damned democratic laws of due process!) while Trejo shows up for one day of shooting to play a gun-purchasing Mexican thug – something of a stretch for Machete himself. Larroquette plays Gabrielle’s boss who also screws her (thankfully off-screen) and has a Bill Maher-esque white, slicked-back hairdo going on that definitely screams B-movie crime lord but since he’ll never be able to shake his comic persona from Night Court, he just doesn’t carry any gravitas.

“Ugh, why did I agree to shoot a movie in Detroit in the winter? And why can’t I find my Twinkies? Seriously, where are my Twinkies? I know they’re down here in these rolls of fat somewhere.”

I haven’t even bothered to touch on the story or plot of the movie itself because it’s irrelevant. Take any other direct-to-DVD urban flick about inner city life of cops and robbers and you pretty much have this one figured out. At least this one has some decent pacing and moments where you almost feel worried for the characters – mainly Kilmer’s Angel – but can’t quite get to that point of actually caring since everyone is so ridiculously one dimensional. 50 Cent’s Rich casts the largest shadow – convenient considering he wrote the part for himself – but even the role of a Detroit hood who started off as a naive petty criminal and now is about to be numero uno in the arms trafficking ring between the Windy City and the Motor City, it’s not what I would call deep. But, Angel, wow. Maybe it was just Val’s hypothermic performance, but there really was nothing to his character: for the first 40 minutes all he does is ask 50 for a gun and call the same chick over and over but only gets her voicemail. But, since it’s Real Genius himself, I’m content watching him lay on a motel couch looking slightly constipated (or is that supposed to be “forlorn”?) for half the movie.

And if I had to judge 50 Cent on which he should stick with – writing or acting – I’d have to say acting. He’s no Harrison Ford, but the guy does have some charisma and likability that shows up on screen. I mean, with the random assortment of actors that have made livings on direct-to-DVD and direct-to-cable movies, Fitty is more than capable of commanding the screen. He showed way more life than Kilmer who in trying to show pain and emptiness behind his eyes only showed sloth and apathy. Without knowing just how much to credit him for the script, I’d say that the caliber of actors that somehow were convinced to star in this flick elevated his words higher up than they had any right being. Even that eye-rolling scene where Detective Rogers punches the wall and yells about having his time wasted on this case managed to stay just south of laughable solely because of Remar’s performance, not the script. There’s nothing new introduced into the genre here, either, other than the assertion that Kilmer and 50 Cent go way back in Detroit as thugs.

“Hey, kids, look at the blight!”

Given what we can expect from a flick like this, the only real beef that I can point out is the ending. The final little sequence would work just fine if not for Detective Roger making zero sense. For whatever reason, he’s pissed. Like rip-roaring mad, despite everything working out pretty much exactly how he’d hoped. Maybe something got left on the editing bay floor that would’ve explained it better, but I can’t imagine what that would’ve been. Considering everything else at least made sense and while not always totally plausible (like 50 Cent standing unscathed in the middle of a massive gunfight with a gun that makes the cannons in the final battle of RoboCop look tiny) at least follows a logical plot path with characters acting according to their (albeit cliched) arcs. Until that last moment with Detective Rogers.

You almost had it, 50. Almost.

How to Act Like a Cop 101: Never let go of your belt. Ever. (Caveat: Unless you’re killing a guy.)

The Package

It looked good and clearly was shot – at least partially – in Detroit, which I respect a great deal. Nothing worse that watching a movie about Detroit and then not seeing it shot there. Worse than other cities that get passed off as somewhere else because when you set a movie in Detroit, it’s for a reason: you don’t just set your movie in D-Town because it’s some benign Everytown. You set it there because it’s rough, it’s dirty, it’s violent, it’s poor. And it’s full of interesting characters. Otherwise, it’s as you’d expect for an average Blu-ray – nothing spectacular and no extras whatsoever.


Out of a Possible 5 Stars

Solidifying his place in gangsta lore, this still frame proves the rumor that 50 Cent merely laughed at being shot seven times. Just after this he brushed himself off and walked into the hospital whilst digging the bullets out with his own fingers.

(Note: not all screencaps taken from the Blu-ray.)