Lionsgate // 2000 // 91 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // May 17th, 2002
Friendship is a Killer
Rancid Aluminium -- or "aluminum" as we Yanks like to say -- is a little film that looks to weave a tangled web of jealousy, mayhem, and intrigue. Friendship, loyalty, and trust are put to the test when money, love, and ambition come into play. This film wants to fall into the mold of superior films like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, but it is unlikely anyone will want to make that association. Two words that describe the pace and plot of this film are plodding and uninteresting. To maintain intrigue in the movie, most of the loose ends do not tie up until the last fifteen minutes; but by then, you really don't care, as you don't have anything vested with any of the characters.
Pete Thompson (Rhys Ifans, Little Nicky, Notting Hill, The Replacements) is not the smartest Brit on the block, but luckily, he works for his dad. Fortunately, Pete does understand his limitations and so he has many of his friends working with him at the company to help ensure that it is run properly. Among them is Sean Denny (Joseph Fiennes, Enemy At The Gates, Shakespeare in Love), the firm's accountant. Life is going pretty well for Pete: the company is doing well and he has a great girlfriend, Sarah. Then one sad day Pete's father passes on and leaves the firm to Pete.
Suddenly Pete's life begins to get very complicated. Pete and Sarah are trying to have a baby, but after many, many attempts, no luck. So, they go off to a fertility specialist to see if they can find out why they can't conceive. As if this isn't enough, Sean informs Pete that the firm owes taxes in the amount of half a million pounds. Pete doesn't understand how this has happened, and he is right in being confused. Sean is actually extremely jealous of Pete's life: the great girlfriend and the great business. Thus, Sean has faked the books to make Pete believe they owe so much in taxes.
Filled with jealousy, Sean contacts the Russian mafia to get Pete out of the way. Herein is supposed to be the mayhem and intrigue of the film: on one side, Pete believe the mafia will help bail out his firm when, in reality -- or so we think -- the mafia is out to kill Pete.
And so the story continues as Pete gets involved with the Mafia, and more specifically, the mob boss' daughter. Will Sean's plan work and will he get the firm? Will Sean be able to win over Sarah? Will Pete grow a brain and figure out what Sean and the mafia are really up to?
Unfortunately, you don't care what happens to Pete, Sarah, Sean, or anyone else in the story. There is minimal character development and the plot that takes forever to flesh out its few details. Further, the movie stretches credibility by having Pete have sex with all of the main female characters in the film: his girlfriend Sarah, his married secretary, and the daughter of the head of the Russian mafia. While that sounds like typical movie fare, remember whom the actor is that plays Pete. He's not a handsome man by any stretch. And, just to add insult to injury, we see Pete's scrawny little bum twenty times too many.
If that isn't enough to ruin the movie, there is a major hole in the movie's plot: what benefit does the Russian mafia get by getting involved in this situation? That is never explained and thus you are left with this huge, nagging question.
If only they explained why the Russian mafia would want to get involved with Sean, then this film could be interesting; well, probably not. The story is poorly written, as evidenced by the major hole above. Beyond that, what plot there is in incoherent. You jump from scene to scene wondering where the continuity of story is. And to think Pete could really be involved with all of those women just strains credibility far too much. On the other hand, the actors do try their best with the material given to them -- except for the actors who portray the mafia, who do quite an awful job.
For such a small film, the disc actually looks pretty good. The movie is presented in 2.35:1 non-anamorphic widescreen; and the transfer is very clean with just a minimal about of grain, which is more apparent in a couple of the night shots; solid, well-defined colors; good definition; and nice contrast. Surprisingly, there is no edge enhancement or artifacting to be found on the disc. The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is decent, but I had a very hard time understanding the dialogue; though, honestly, that may be more attributable to the thick accents.
The only "special feature" on the disc is actually hidden under the Lions Gate logo on the bottom left on the menu. If you click on it, you will get to view three trailers: Rancid Aluminium, Fast Sofa, and Tape.
What exactly does the title mean? There's somewhat of a running joke about zinc in the movie, so is that related? What is rancid aluminum? Rust?
There are many, better films of this genre that you can enjoy. I would steer clear of this one. Rhys Ifans is not a strong enough actor to be the lead in a film, and that adds to the failure of the movie.
If you're in the mood for a nice British caper, go rent Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch. This movie is guilty of having too many plot holes and is sentenced five to ten for a sloppy script.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Original Theatrical Trailer
* Trailers for Fast Sofa and Tape