Thursday 16 July 2015

American Heist ... Viewers were robbed

THE name of the film suggests a grand heist will happen at the end, but viewers will have to first sit through 90% of drivel about the tenuous relationship between two ex-con brothers before the action starts. Disappointingly, but not totally unexpected, even the heist is a big letdown.
   In between, viewers will also get a lecture about life, death and banks. Yes, dear readers, banks are the problem plaguing decaying urban America (particularly New Orleans), which makes them the perfect target for a bunch of losers to prey on. The heist leader blames banks for foreclosures in the US, but this doesn't mean that this bunch should rob banks.

   Armenian director-producer Sarik Andreasyan thinks viewers will stick along for 94 minutes to follow the brotherly connection, or about how family ties run deep and that they are the only things that matter.
  I wish this were true. Firstly, I did not for a moment believe the link between elder brother Frankie (Oscar winner Adrien Brody) and James (Hayden Christensen).
   Frankie's just been released from prison after 10 years, while James served 16 months. Frankie looks taut and lean, and I figured he'd be tough because's his body is covered with tattoos, but he's actually a wuss who can't stand up to Ray (Torry Kittles) and his henchman Sugar (singer Akon, whose songs are in the film).
    He has been buggered repeatedly, too, and you'd have thought that that would have been enough to keep him away from doing dastardly things again, but he's already knee deep in trouble.
  His first task is to enslave handsome brother James, a mechanic, racer, pianist and army veteran who served in Iraq as a bomb maker.
   I am not kidding you about a mechanic playing the piano, because James gets to tinkle a few ivories at his simple home, which is next to a home taken over by a bank.
   The brothers reminisce about the crime that put them behind bars, and about their mum who was wracked by her husband walking out on the family, and that it was incumbent on Frankie to steal to support the family. All this is nice and sweet, but viewers won't buy this weepy family background story.
    The gang traps James by getting him to drive it to an isolated area to meet someone. The gang kills that person, and makes a getaway in James' car. Ray says that James is now an accomplice.
   What irks me is James' gullibility in believing Ray. James never saw the gang kill someone. He just heard a shot and saw the gang running towards him and urging him to drive away.
  James doesn't read the papers to find out about the murder, nor does he bother to even ask his intended girlfriend, Emily (Jordana Brewster of Fast & Furious series), who is a police dispatcher.
    The rest of the film from that moment onward is about the enmity James feels towards his brother and the latter's protestations that he had no choice but to return to a life of crime.
   Since this film is about a heist, I believe I'm not revealing much when I say that the robbers are bunglers. What person robs a bank and calls out to his fellow robber by his real name? Didn't they watch Reservoir Dogs (1992)?
2 out of 5 stars

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