Judge Maurice Cobbs has a standing policy: After shooting the hero, leave the gun and take the cannoli.
Kiss the bride. Take the money…
You know, I've never really been able to think of Jason Mewes as an actor. I just can't do it. All that Kevin Smith stuff, don't get me wrong, he was plenty funny and entertaining and whatnot, but…I just can't take him seriously as an actor. How can you? Call it a character flaw (mine, not his). I'm happy he's branching out, trying to make an honest go of it—granted, Midgets vs. Mascots was…an unpleasant experience, but at least he's not coasting on rapidly fading memories of long past Snootchie-bootchies. Or trying not to, anyway—it's doubtful that this cinematic gem is going to reinvent Master Mewes' place in film history.
To be fair, the blame cannot be entirely laid at the feet of Mewes. The film is a little rough around the edges. But it gets a lot rougher around the middle, all along the sides, and especially on the top and bottom. The whole things starts off innocently enough with mild-mannered slacker Nate (Mewes) desperately trying to save his tepid relationship with Kate, played by emerging starlet Samantha Lockwood, previously seen in the unwatchable Return of the Outlaws (starring Lorenzo Lamas!). Perhaps unwisely, Nate believes that surprising Kate with a trip to the jewelry store to pick out an engagement ring will be the nudge needed to get their romance back on track. Even though Nate arrives as the store is closing, the shopkeeper cuts him a break and lets him in. Suddenly, the whole thing takes an express trip to Tarantino-land as a gang of bad guys sets a robbery in motion. But one of the robbers (Paul Sloan) has plans to take over his boss's criminal empire, a plan that goes awry when his crew of robbers instead turn on him. Nate and Kate find themselves caught in the crossfire, and the timid Nate decides to take the chance of his life.
At this point, we leave Kate and Nate and join the Smith Brothers—Fat Smith (Nic Nac, Supergator) and Thin Smith (Mike Hatton, On Bloody Sunday) are going through some relationship troubles of their own, and they're on the verge of splitting up for good as well. Lost out in the boondocks on their way to a job opportunity, they run afoul of some kind of weird mercenary survivalist militia group (led by a cigar-chomping Fred "The Hammer" Williamson) and find themselves running for their lives.
Finally, we drop in on Crazy Joe (Danny Trejo, Machete himself), the crime boss behind the heist at the beginning of the film. In this segment, the threads of the film's storyline—centering around a huge duffel bag stuffed with cash—tie together. Guns will be fired, feelings will be explored, more guns will be fired, relationships will be reaffirmed, and after the last bullet shell has dropped and the final emotion expressed, some of our characters will start life with a new perspective, and others will reap their just desserts.
It's kind of appropriate that Jason Mewes should be this movie's anchor—I suppose that fans of the View Askewniverse (or of Q.T.'s slapdash homages to older, greater films) will find this movie enjoyable. But while writer/director Christian Sesma definitely displays heaping, steaming piles of raw potential, and he's quite cannily populated his little opus with an impressive array of solid supporting players (like Trejo and Williamson, not to mention dependable C-listers like Nicholas Turturro, Taylor Negron, and pornstar-turned-actress Katie Morgan), the film falls apart on a very fundamental level. The individual stories that comprise the movie just aren't very good. Oh, the thing taken as a whole is entertaining enough, and most of the actors deliver solid performances. Even Mewes is pretty good as the nebbish Nate—hey, I said it was hard for me to take him seriously as an actor, not that he couldn't do it. But the stories aren't very good in and of themselves. Even though we spend a lot of time with Kate and Nate in the beginning, why Nate is even interested in salvaging the relationship is beyond me—Kate seems like quite a pill for most of the movie. Their back-and-forth bickering (in the middle of a massive gunfight) is amusing, but it might have helped if we'd gotten to see some other side of Kate…preferably the side that makes Nate think the relationship is worthwhile to begin with. On the other hand, I suppose credit is due to Lockwood for playing the part as she does, and never letting Kate become the full-blown bitch that the character quite easliy might have been.
The Smith's storyline is even weaker—their antagonists, the kooky militia, seem to have no real purpose or objective beyond menacing the brothers. With a little more thought, these guys could have been tied into the story more tightly, or fleshed out a little so that they don't seem like cardboard cut-outs. The end result is kind of a mess, but it's far from being unwatchable; there's a lot of potential here.
Even though I can't exactly give Sesma high marks for this one, I'll be very
interested in seeing whatever he comes up with in the future. Hung Jury.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Virgil Films
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