Image Entertainment // 2008 // 123 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // October 29th, 2009
Every man for himself.
While The Crew wants to be a great crime thriller, it misses its mark a number of times. Between that and a lackluster transfer, it's a hard film to recommend.
Things aren't going well for Ged (Scot Williams, Clubbed) and his crew of merry bandits. The past few jobs have gone badly, and some members of the crew are looking to drugs in order to expand the business. If the next job -- involving a truck full of Playstation 3's -- doesn't go better, it could mean a bloody and unpleasant uprising in the ranks.
In the '90s, every independent director wanted to be Tarantino. As a result, we saw an endless stream of quirky characters who talked too much about unimportant things, and most of them were very boring. Over the last decade, every independent director -- especially on the other side of the Atlantic -- has wanted to be Guy Ritchie. Now, we get endless streams of quirky characters in plots that twist around too much for their own good.
Enter The Crew. It's a film that actually starts the main plot with a character saying "what's the worst that could happen?" While I won't go so far as to say "this movie" in response, we go in knowing exactly what to expect.
The film is shot with quite a bit of style, but it takes itself far too seriously. Crime films this brutal either need to have something important to say, or comic relief to keep the experience from becoming too unpleasant. Here, the humor is consistently underplayed, and it's overwhelmed by tension, violence and grit. Ged's wife's lesbian affair could be a pretty funny ironic twist, but it's played with Vaseline on the lens in slow motion instead. I've never been to Liverpool, but if this film is any indication, it's the most angry city in the world.
There are, of course, highly successful serious crime movies as well. Here, though, the main messages are the same we've seen in dozens of other crime flicks. Don't bit off more than you can chew. Don't turn on your friends/family. Don't be a user and a dealer. Don't betray mob bosses. While Ged does want to get out of the life, it's treated as a mild subplot to all of the carnage.
Midway through the film, I had a shocking realization. The Crew didn't want to be a Guy Ritchie film. It wants to be a Martin Scorscese film, a la Goodfellas. Judged by these standards, the film fails even more. It wants to have the sweeping power of a great tragedy, but isn't willing to take the plot to its logical conclusion. It doesn't have the heightened richness of great tragedy, and slips up badly towards the end.
The DVD is not great. The video transfer lacks clarity and sharpness, and suffers from some serious edge enhancement in spots. The opening sequence looks stunning in 2.35:1, then the film inexplicably switches to 1.85:1 instead. The sound is in Dolby 5.1, but the voices are soft and the mix is front-heavy, which is not great considering the thickness of the accents on display here. There are English subtitles in case it gets really bad. The DVD has a typical set of special features, including a commentary track, some deleted scenes and a short production featurette.
I respect what The Crew was meant to be, but this is all ground that has been covered much better in the past. It doesn't have the fun factor of recent stylized crime comedies, and also lacks the emotional impact of the great crime dramas.
Guilty. This one needs a good once-over by a big nasty gangster.
Review content copyright © 2009 Joel Pearce; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 123 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site