Inception Media Group // 2008 // 104 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Steve Power // October 8th, 2010
The plan was simple...The job was not.
2:22 is the latest in a long line of independent crime sagas which strive to rise above low budget roots through sheer earnest ambition. Does it clear the usual low rent gangster rubbish?
Gully Mercer (Mick Rossi, Played) leads a group of pro-league criminals in the frozen Canadian city of New York (actually Toronto posing rather unconvincingly as the Big Apple). The gents plan a foolproof heist for a lazy upper-class hotel on New Year's Eve, set to take place at exactly 2:22 AM (hence the title; clever huh?) Of course, everything goes off without a hitch, our boys all get rich, and everyone lives happily ever after. Or not...
The crime genre has long been a mainstay of low budget Hollywood; a gateway for up-and-coming talent both in front of and behind the camera. Many of today's legends sprang from humble indie yarns about gangsters and wise guys, heists and getaways. For every one that goes on to become a legend, there are a hundred more that just plain don't. 2:22 is the latter, no doubt, but there are a few redeeming qualities which might make this one worth a look see.
Chiefly, the direction by Phillip Guzman (The Lawless) is rock solid, doing a great job of setting up shots and capturing the action. 2:22 has a Cinema Verite look and feel, compensating for a lack of budget with some striking visual flair.
Then there's the script by Guzman and star Mick Rossi; It's modern gangster pastiche, but takes its time in developing the story and the characters, borrowing more from The Book of Mann than The Book of Tarantino. The good guys all have their flaws, some more tragic than others, and the bad guys are all bastards. When things do go pear-shaped, they do so in spectacular fashion, and there are one or two genuinely brutal moments that are very well handled. The pacing is deliberate, and builds an effective amount of tension throughout.
2:22's look is well represented on Blu-ray. The digital photography is a little soft and grainy when outside in the dark, but the look suits the film pretty well, fine detail is great during interior scenes, and I didn't notice any shimmering or aliasing. The sound is an immersive 5.1 Dolby mix that effectively fills the soundstage, and when the gunshots hit, they hit loud and hard.
There's not much in the way of extras, save for a making-of featurette, which runs a little over a half hour and is surprisingly extensive. It's not your typically fluffy promo piece, providing a good glimpse at what goes into making low budget films in the digital age. There's also a photo gallery.
What good graces 2:22 buys with its look and action, it very nearly loses with its lack of originality. It never quite feels genuine, but more like homage to the gritty crime flicks of the '70s and the '90s. If you've seen Michael Mann's Heat or Dog Day Afternoon, you won't see anything particularly new here. In a genre as well travelled as crime, you really need to bring something new to the table to stand out, and this feature doesn't.
Beyond that, many of the actors strive to elevate the material, but most of them reach a little further than they can grasp. In many cases, these tough guys just don't inhabit the dark world that's portrayed, and the performances can often make the film feel like low rent stage drama. There's definitely some good here, most notably from the seasoned veterans Val Kilmer (The Saint) and an uncredited Gabriel Byrne (Miller's Crossing), but neither of them is around for very long.
2:22 is a surprisingly entertaining and gritty production. It doesn't add anything new to the crime genre, and the uneven performances certainly don't do the film any favors, but the direction is sound, the script is solid, and the flick has a great look for low budget fare.
Guilty, but only of misdemeanors.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Inception Media Group
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Photo Gallery