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c'mon pal, can't we just get beyond thunderdome...?


Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic, Shawn Roberts, Damian Young

Craven:  You had better decide if you’re hanging on the cross, or banging in the nails.

Thomas Craven (Gibson) is your average movie detective.  He’s single, has a daughter he doesn’t see much of, is generally referred to by his last name only, and he’s really good at fighting and shooting guns.  Unfortunately, his daughter, Emma (Novakovic), is gunned down right in front of Craven, sparking him to launch an investigation into why.

Pretty typical fare here, but probably done a little better than usual.

There’s nothing much new on display, except for maybe the details of the situation that Emma was mixed up in, which still seems to be revealed in a rather formulaic way.  In fact, at times I was wondering why Craven wasn’t putting all the pieces together a little faster.

The best thing about the movie is probably the character of Jedburgh (Winstone).  He’s sort of an ambiguous hit man hired to “clean up” the situation, but instead investigates it first in order to use his own moral code to decide who he kills and who he spares.  At least I think that’s what was going on.  It was late and I was pretty sleepy while watching this, so I could be off in my description there…but he’s still a cool character, whatever his function.

I don’t know if it was the way it was made, the performances, or the story and writing, but something in this movie kept my attention all the way through.  Despite it all seeming so familiar, it had sort of…well…an edge to it.  A seriousness that I appreciated.  All these characters are walking a tightrope between light and darkness…and life and death.  You don’t know who exactly is going to end up on which side by the end of the movie, and that’s what keeps it interesting.

Mel Gibson is alright, but not overly great, in a role it feels like he’s played before (maybe a mix of Payback and Ransom).  His increasingly gravelly voice is especially appropriate for a weary, depressed cop, though at times it sounds almost painful for him to even get an entire sentence out.  It’s really Winstone, Huston, and Young as the possible villains that steal the show.  Huston and Young in particular will crawl right up under your skin with their smarmy attitudes.

Still, despite being well made and holding my attention, this is the kind of movie that I would call highly forgettable.  You might have a good time watching it, but then later you’ll have trouble even remembering the characters and the plot (see 3 paragraphs up).  I think this is mainly due to it being a standard revenge plot, where only the core mystery is what’s different from other films of its type.  Basically you take that basic revenge framework and plug in whatever story you can come up with to provide motivation for the characters.  As long as you can keep thinking up stories, you can just keep churning out revenge flicks.

Frankly, I’m a little tired of them, but as I mentioned, at least this one is well made…

It might not always be a good idea to Get Milk.

10 – 2 for that standard, predictable revenge plot framework – 1.2 because it seemed like Craven should have caught on to a few things a lot sooner than he did = 6.8