Appellate Judge James A. Stewart would rather bomb squads not smoke on duty.
"Do you Freaky Deak?"
"Are you sitting down?"
The female voice on the phone informs a drug dealer that he will be blown up if he stands up. There's a bomb in his chair. He calls the bomb squad in, but they take a smoke break. While they're outside, there's an explosion.
Fans of TV's Justified have seen a scene very much like that—a lot of scenes a lot like that, actually. You just know they come from the mind of crime writer Elmore Leonard. However, this isn't taking place in some shack in rural Kentucky in the present day; it's in a Detroit mansion in 1974.
Freaky Deaky, based on Leonard's novel, finds Mankowski (Billy Burke, Revolution), recently reassigned from the bomb squad to the sex crimes unit, taking on the case of a woman who says she was raped by the wealthy Woody Ricks (Crispin Glover, Back to the Future). Mankowski tries to help her—perhaps even falling in love with her—while at the same time trying to save Ricks' life in the wake of a bomb blast at his mansion.
You're expecting some excessive characterizations from Leonard, and you'll get a couple. Most notable are Glover as the childlike Ricks, who ends up welcoming his would-be killers into his home, and Breanne Racano (Hellweek) as a romance novelist who moonlights as a bomber.
At other times, though, characterizations and setup are a little too pat. Mankowski is the type of cop who knocks an ex-con suspect who doesn't know how to swim into a pool. Burke's performance isn't bad; it's just shallower than the pool. There's also the obligatory acid trip scene, with Chinese food turning into worms. The 1974 setting is established with sound bites at the opening and a few clips from Let's Make a Deal, although there are a few nifty old cars and an impression of Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry ("Do you feel lucky, punk?").
Freaky Deaky sticks to a couple of settings—the cop shop and two Detroit-area mansions, thus revealing its low budget. However, they are presented well. The music mostly sticks to 1970s-era movie score cliches, for an effect that's overdone (presumably on purpose) but not awful.
Director Charles Matthau (Doin' Time on Planet Earth) injects a few stylish touches—scenes are separated by chapter headings—but keeps it straightforward and not too flashy.
As for extras, there's a making-of in which Matthau says he kept the plot and as much Leonard dialogue as he could.
Freaky Deaky makes for a breezy 90 minutes. For fans of Justified or Leonard's novels, it's definitely worth a rental at the Redbox or a viewing on HBO or some similar channel. It's a better-than-average time killer that won't leave too much of a lasting impression.
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