After making the tight, simple shock thriller Vacancy (2007), Nimrod Antal directed this straight-faced B-movie about an inside bank heist that goes, unsurprisingly, very bad due to someone breaking one of the key rules set out by the team's leader, Mike Cochrone (slimy Matt Dillon): No one gets hurt.
If someone didn't get hurt, there would be no story, and the group may well have walked away with the full load, although realistically, sitting pretty on $42 million, staying quiet, and not tattle-taling on your associates in crime if you end up getting caught due to some personal act of stupidity is, well, tough.
James V. Simpsons' script keeps things very simple: after testing the mettle of newbie security guard Ty Hackett (Columbus Short), Mike invites him in on the team's plans to rob one of two yearly occurrances - banks topping off their cash haul in a series of large deliveries. The first 20 minutes are basic setup material for the main characters of Ty and Mike, as well as Ty's younger brother Jimmy whose truancy has brought a child welfare worker into the Hackett household with a threat to send Jimmy to a foster home within days until the family debts are cleared up.
When Ty agrees to help in the robbery, the two trucks are taken to a rustry iron works factory, where the cash is removed, hidden, and the group is supposed to set up fake details of an outside robbery. Once someone is killed, though, the group turns on itself, and Ty's inner Iraqi War Hero materializes, sabotaging every effort the team makes to retrieve the cash from the truck wherein Ty's locked himself inside.
Simpsons' script seems to borrow a bit from Walter Hill's Trespass (1992) - namely infighting between thieves in a rusty, disintegrating building - as well as a lesser known French Canadian film called Pouvoir intime (1986), directed by Yves Simoneau. The crux of Simoneau's film deals with the crooks trying to 'convince' an honest security guard to unlock the truck using an increasingly cruel series of tactics, which Mike somewhat imitates when it's clear honest Ty will not open up the truck doors after blood's been unnecessarily spilt.
Antal's direction is fast, sharp, and free from ornamental editing tricks, as well as visual theatricals. More of a lean Walter Hillian caper film, the stunts are first rate, as well as the chase sequences in and around the factory's crumbling infrastructure, and the music score by John Murphy is drenched in a beautiful veneer of misery and, er, irony. Another added bonus is an amazing cast, many of whom do very little behind the top five busy characters.
(Fred Ward was apparently dragged out of retirement for a small but symbollic role as the security firm's manager, and Jean Reno is in the cast purely for a 'What the?' reaction, since he has about 10 words of dialogue and glowers a lot.)
The short film is wrapped up with a light twist, and perhaps the film's best moment is purely unintentional: in an elaborate visual gag, the intro of Laurence Fishburne's character has been edited to make it appear the crude character is literally hosing down a truck for the day's haul with a giant geyser of pee, done with a fat smirk, and smoking a cigarette without interruption.
To read an interview with composer John Murphy, click HERE.
© 2010 Mark R. Hasan