Inception Media Group // 2008 // 104 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mac McEntire // August 13th, 2010
The plan was easy. The job was not.
Four crooks come up with a plan to break into a classy boutique hotel in New York City on New Year's Eve. The first step is to take out the front clerk, and then raid the hotel's security boxes for goodies, making it out of the hotel before dawn. As is the case with most movie heists, not everything goes smoothly. The crooks run into some of the hotel guests, complicating matters. Then, just as it looks like they've gotten away with it, another surprise awaits the thieves, taking them into dark places they never expected to go.
2:22 is a frustrating film to watch. There was a lot to enjoy about it, but there was a lot that disappointed me. At times, the movie is clever, building suspense with an increasing series of "How are they going to get out of this?" scenarios. At other times, though, the writers and director fall back on crime flick clichés that we've all seen before, and they rely on random coincidences to keep the plot moving.
Our crew of swindlers includes the sharp-witted leader (Mick Rossi, Played), the world-weary older career thief (Robert Milano, Donnie Brasco), the hunky young rookie (Jorge A. Jiminez) and the short-tempered violent psycho guy (Aaron Gallagher, A Kiss and a Promise). Each character has his subplot, which plays out after the big heist is over. Although it's tricky at first sorting out which character is which with so many people to keep track of. Once the story really gets moving forward, though, it's easy to get caught up in these four guys and their sneaky scheme. Rossi and Milano are the best of the bunch, and their occasional heart-to-heart scenes form the emotional core of what would otherwise be just another pair of hardened criminals.
The actual heist is the most engrossing part of the story. The way it's set up is that the thieves take out the hotel employees and then go about breaking into the safety deposit boxes one by one. While they do so, however, they run into the unexpected -- having to deal with the hotel guests. In order to keep their cover, our band of thieves have to pose as hotel management, manning the front door, delivering room service, and answering costumer complaints, all while maintaining their cover. This is the suspenseful part, where the crooks get farther and farther over their heads as more and more guests call the front desk or show up at the front door. With each new encounter, the thieves are closer and closer to someone figuring them out, and it's real "keep you guessing" stuff.
In most heist movies, the structure is that the first part of the story builds up to the big heist, which we then see played out in the second half. This movie, however, does the opposite, by delivering the heist in the first half. It then spends the rest of the movie showing us what happens afterward. That's an interesting storytelling experiment, but I still felt the better material was in the actual job. At least twice, there are two huge plot points generated from random coincidence. I'm sorry, but having two characters bump into purely by chance at a moment when it's the most dramatically convenient doesn't count as a surprise twist.
You might be wondering about Val Kilmer (Willow) being in this movie. He plays this oddball guy who recuts diamonds stolen by our anti-heroes. Kilmer is in full-on "look how quirky I can be" mode, making the character more interesting than what was written. Unfortunately, he's only on screen for about ten minutes total, and it looks to me like both of his scenes could have been cut, and it would have been the exact same movie. That's a problem the whole movie suffers. With so many side plots running alongside the main plot, a lot characters float in and out of the story without explanation. There's a famous actor with a secret, a man depressed over losing his wife, and a flirtatious bit with a cop's ex-wife. These characters only sort of add to the main story, but end up going nowhere.
There's no shortage of nitpicks to be found here:
* I don't know much about hotel management, and even less about the subworld of high-class boutique hotels, but I find it hard to believe that a hotel is staffed by only two employees -- the front desk guy and a cook -- on New Year's Eve.
* As the movie builds toward its big climax, with both the cops and rival crooks after our heroes, why don't they up and leave town for a while, until the heat dies down? Isn't that what movie crooks usually do? Moreover, why does no one even suggest leaving town?
* Next door to Val Kilmer's character is some sort of laboratory where grown men wearing nothing but diapers are working on giant metal devices of some kind. What the hell?
For this review, DVD Verdict received an advance screener disc, the quality of which might differ from the ones in stores. The picture and audio are just fine, making the most of the intentionally gritty cinematography while keeping the dialogue and score nice and clear. There are no extras.
2:22 is an OK movie, but one that could have been a great movie. The heist is cool and fun, but the drama that follows is cliché and hackneyed.
Synchronize watches to: Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Inception Media Group
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R