GET CARTER (2000)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 42 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Violence, Language, some Sexuality and Drug Content

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Directed by: Stephen Kay

Written by: David McKenna

(based on the novel JACK’S RETURN HOME by Ted Lewis)

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Miranda Richardson, Rachael Leigh Cook, Alan Cumming, Mickey Rourke, John C. McGinley, Michael Caine & Rhona Mitra

Though it eventually went on to win critical acclaim, 1971’s GET CARTER wasn’t originally well-received upon release. Due to marketing blunders and a studio that seemingly didn’t care, the Michael Caine revenge-thriller wound up sinking into obscurity in the USA. Two decades passed and the film gained a cult following behind it, eventually re-entering the cinematic scene during the 90’s. Where there’s popularity (no matter how niche it is), there will be a studio exec waiting to cash in on that craze. I present to you the 2000 remake of GET CARTER. This was a cooler, more hip and edgier take on the material…at least, that’s what one studio exec would have you believe. Though it’s watchable and does try to tell its story in a slightly different manner, this remake of GET CARTER ultimately feels like a bit of watered-down bore.

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Jack Carter is mob enforcer in Las Vegas (as opposed to London). When his brother winds up dead in an apparent drunk driving accident, Jack returns to his home in Seattle (as opposed to Newcastle). Something surrounding his brother’s death doesn’t seem right, so Jack goes sniffing around the darker corners of the city for answers. While on his quest for the truth, Jack bonds with his young niece and discovers a conspiracy involving a porn kingpin and a computer genius…that could be linked to his brother’s suspicious untimely demise.

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Credit where credit is due, 2000’s GET CARTER does try to tell its story in a different way. Those new spins on the material don’t quite work out, because the movie still finds itself clinging to the original to move the plot forward. However, this inferior remake is still watchable…even if it’s poorly made. Sylvester Stallone is certainly not the actor that Michael Caine is, so he plays his usual tough guy role here. Stallone aside, every other character has been slightly shaken up. The innkeeper is now Jack’s sister-in-law. Jack’s sister has now become Jack’s niece. The shady businessman has transformed into a computer geek (played in not so intimidating fashion by Alan Cumming). Then there’s Mickey Rourke as the porn kingpin who’s pretty much the same scumbag as the original character, but with a website and CD’s. While the original GET CARTER had bad guys and worse guys, this new version has been painted with a good vs. evil brush. Jack Carter wasn’t someone who you could completely root for in the original, but he’s pretty much a generic action hero in this reboot. As you might imagine, this lessens the moral ambiguity that made the original so haunting and special.

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On the technical side of things, GET CARTER feels like it’s trying way too hard to be hip and cool. For crying out loud, this new Jack Carter wears cufflinks with his initials on them. The film is over stylized to the breaking point. There are lots of useless lens flares, fast editing, quick cutting and slow motion. The movie speaks for itself in a scene where Jack makes a horrifying discovery. The original let the scene quietly play out and all the emotions break across Michael Caine’s face. This remake doesn’t give us much a glimpse of Stallone’s face in that moment that isn’t in double vision or with the camera spinning upside down. Those technical touches are supposed to portray the emotion, instead of the actor. If you’re wanted an MTV action-packed thrill-ride the first time around, then this 2000 reboot also tries to throw in lots of pointless action scenes that exist for the sake of having a chase or fight sequence. To top it all off, the stunning, depressing conclusion that so perfectly closed out the original has been replaced with a forced, uplifting Hollywoodized hodge-podge of an ending.

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I had kept my hopes at a reasonable level for this remake and was still let down. I should have taken the techno-reboot of the original’s theme as a warning. Though this new version of GET CARTER may have tried to do things differently, but none of it fully works. I did somewhat enjoy one sub-plot, but it’s only purpose was to add in pointless action scenes that never amount to anything by the ending. Michael Caine shows up in a side role as if to give his approval for this remake and that’s sort of neat, but again, it all amounts to nothing. All this dumbed down remake accomplishes is showing how vastly superior the 1971 original really was. I think I’ll let Michael Caine’s final line in this remake sum everything up. He’s walking away from Sylvester Stallone and says “I’m not turning around.” You should take his advice and just walk past this remake of GET CARTER on the DVD shelf at your local store.

Grade: D+

11:14 (2005)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 26 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Violence, Sexuality and Pervasive Language

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Directed by: Greg Marcks

Written by: Greg Marcks

Starring: Henry Thomas, Barbara Hershey, Clark Gregg, Shawn Hatosy, Hilary Swank, Patrick Swayze, Rachael Leigh Cook, Stark Sands, Colin Hanks, Ben Foster & Jason Segel

11:14 is a work of pure creativity and genius storytelling! To describe the film as a mere anthology would be doing a disservice to just how well-constructed the whole thing is. Playing out sort of like a rural PULP FICTION, this is a cinematic puzzle about a group of shady individuals connected by a single moment. Featuring lots of big names and stylish flare as well as a wickedly sick sense of humor, I can imagine 11:14 pleasing fans of Quentin Tarantino and the Coen brothers. Yes, it’s that good!

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11:14 pm on a rural road. An intoxicated man is driving to pick up a friend when he has the misfortune of slamming his car into a random somebody. Trying to cover up evidence of his crime (e.g. a corpse), the man comes face-to-face with a frustrated police officer. In the same town, a group of teenage jackasses are driving around in a van doing misdeeds when tragedy strikes in the form of a sliding window. A couple of blocks away, a father is trying to cover up the grisly consequences of the sins of his daughter. Just down the street from him, two convenience store clerks are botching a would-be robbery. These events interweave through each other and every plotline is connected in some way. The story of 11:14 is about a car accident and everything leading up to that. Everything just happens to be executed in brilliant form!

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The script of 11:14 is littered with accidents, cover-ups, insane characters and random acts of violence. The film as a whole is a collage of different stories and people. With what little screen time each performer is given, they all manage to get across exactly what kind of scumbag their individual character is. A young Colin Hanks and Ben Foster are appropriate as idiot teenagers, one of which makes an unfortunate decision involving a foreboding sliding car window. Hilary Swank is totally off her usual role as a brace-faced clerk who doesn’t exactly have the highest IQ. Henry Thomas is convincing as the drunk driver caught up in the middle of the deadly hijinks surrounding him, but is probably the least used character. Rachael Leigh Cook shows up as a beautiful femme fatale living in this podunk town. It’s also worth noting that a young Jason Segal makes an appearance as an ambulance driver. With all these big names, Patrick Swayze really steals the show as a father doing bad deeds with good intentions.

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The weaving plotlines and ridiculous (but believable) characters really sell 11:14. The style in which it’s told is also remarkably assured. This was director/writer Greg Marcks feature debut and to date, he only has one other movie to his name. That’s a pity because I would love to see many more stories told in this vein from him. Though the tone of 11:14 is pretty bleak and grim all the way through (seeing as death and violence are both present), there’s also a hilarious dark sense of humor layered over everything. This really did remind me of an early Tarantino flick and that’s probably the highest compliment you can receive on a film of this type. If there are any complaints to be had with this movie, I would say that two subplots didn’t necessarily have a conclusion (the drunk driver segment and the teenager one), while another lingered longer than was necessary (the botched robbery). However, those are totally satisfying in spite of their minor flaws. The film fits together as a nearly perfect creation.

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11:14 might be one of the coolest movies that you’ve probably never heard of. This flick is all-around great, blending together multiple storylines in an entertaining way and throwing pitch-black comedy into the mix as well. The big name cast add even more fun to the proceedings, especially seeing these actors and actresses playing parts that are so out of their usual type-cast roles. 11:14 is awesome, plain and simple. This is a must-see!

Grade: A

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