Case Number 04422

QUICKSAND

Lionsgate // 2001 // 93 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 15th, 2004

The Charge

He's running for his life and running out of time.

Opening Statement

Wait, now who's that guy? He looks familiar. I swear I've seen him before. Wasn't he in that weird talking snowman movie? And what else? Oh yeah! Batman! He's Batman! What's he been up to these days???

Facts of the Case

Michael Keaton returns to the silver screen (that is, if your television's screen is silver) in this 2001 thriller. Keaton's Martin Raikes is a bank investigator sent to Monaco to check up on the shady dealings of a movie production. After the apparent no-brainer business trip, he'll then fly over to London to kick it with his estranged daughter. When he arrives, he is met by the film company's CFO, the lovely Lela (Judith Godreche) and the grumpy, frumpy, washed-up action star Jake Mellows (Michael Caine).

Something is rotten in Denmark with the production, though, and Martin senses it. Unfortunately, he sticks his nose in a little too deep for the corrupt bankrollers' tastes and is soon deemed a threat to their criminal high jinks. He is first offered a mega-bribe, but with scruples pressing him, he rejects it. Too bad, because this is the Russian mob he's dealing with, and from what I gather they're real bastards.

Suddenly, Martin finds himself framed for an assassination attempt, and the hostile authorities -- on the payroll of the mob -- look to bust a cap in his American behind. The American authorities are also hot on his trail, investigating him for money laundering among other faux charges. Oh, and his daughter's pissed at him.

Faster than you can say "oh crap my life sucks," Martin is up to his neck in violent Eurotrash and diabolical schemes.

As he sifts through the mystery, he reveals the nefarious nature of the Russians' rackets, which include illegal pornography and money laundering. Not knowing who to trust, he turns to -- you guessed it -- the hot girl. Soon she, too, is marked for death and the two run like crazy together, before meeting up with Jake, who shortly thereafter joins the group.

The trio put their minds together, desperate to find a way to clear their names, rescue kidnapped loved ones, and survive.

The Evidence

Welcome back Keaton. Sure this movie is three years old, but it feels like I haven't seen this guy for a half a millennium. I'm an unabashed Keaton supporter, and though he's probably earned himself a time-share on The Island of Washed-up Celebrities, I still want to give it up for him. The guy is just cool.

And so is this movie -- for the most part.

Despite the fact I had never heard of it, the presentation is fairly ghetto, and, although it's an Artisan disc, the flick managed to grab my attention -- again, for the most part.

Though the framed/running-for-your-life routine is fairly overused, there was enough panache in the overall presentation to keep me involved. Quicksand is certainly formulaic in parts, but it's able to offer a moderately successful incarnation of that formula.

This is first and foremost a psychological thriller. The action is sparse, and when it does happen, there's not much to go on. The highlight is Martin's initial evasion of the Russian mobsters. But Bruckheimer-ites, be warned, the exploding propane tanks and wild gunfights are not here.

It's also not much of a mystery. There is effective suspense, sure, but the villains are clearly defined, and any ambiguous characters immediately show their true colors. Basically, it's a straight-arrow search-and-destroy movie, with the much-hyped gangsters looking for the thorns in their sides. (Although the gangsters really fail to live up to the infamy they were painted with early in the film, making some bone-headed decisions at the end.)

Speaking of which, the "less" part that I just did not enjoy was the ending. After doing a decent job of building to the climax, the filmmakers just couldn't swing the knockout punch, opting instead for "cop-out" punch. You'll see, but the audience is definitely left with a "blue-balls" finale.

Artisan lets you choose a screen format. Since I'm not a dope, I went with the widescreen. The transfer struck me as fairly dated. If not for the weathered look of Keaton's face, I could be fooled into thinking this was a 20-year-old film. Some of the darker scenes (night and twilight footage) appear especially grainy. The 5.1 mix is welcome, but not particularly overwhelming (or under-whelming for that matter). Let's just call it "whelming."

Artisan went above the call of duty to deliver three informational interviews, with Caine, Godreche, and producer Jim Reeve.

Oh, and one more thing: Apparently, the preferred method of execution in Monaco is shooting people in the eye. Just a little nugget I picked up from the movie.

Closing Statement

So close, but Keaton and company can't seal the deal. It's not a bad movie by any means, but Quicksand probably won't suck you in.

The Verdict

Alas, Mike, but the court orders you on the next ferry back to The Island.

Review content copyright © 2004 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 80
Audio: 90
Extras: 85
Acting: 80
Story: 70
Judgment: 81

Perp Profile
Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* Spanish

Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Interviews
* Trailers

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0271136/combined